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Pakistan seeks US support on implementation of Indus Waters Treaty with India

Islamabad: Pakistan has sought support of the US on the implementation of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) with India, as Secretary of State John Kerry called for an amicable settlement of the issue by New Delhi and Islamabad, media reported on Saturday.

The development came after Pakistan was irked by the World Bank pause in mediation to resolve differences over construction of two water projects by India.

The Express Tribune reported that Kerry made a phone call to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Thursday night and discussed the row over the IWT implementation and the role of the World Bank (WB), which had brokered the treaty in 1960.

After Kerry’s call, US Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale also met Dar in Islamabad at the Finance Ministry.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The back-to-back contacts highlight the importance of the water issue, which can potentially endanger regional stability if the situation slips out of control, according to sources at Finance Ministry.

“The US would like to see an amicable solution to this (water) issue,” a Finance Ministry statement quoted Kerry as saying.

Kerry told Dar that the WB president had informed him about Pakistan’s complaint against India on the IWT.

The water dispute has catapulted the US back into Pakistan’s economic picture.

The American civilian and military assistance to Pakistan has drastically come down in recent months and its implications on Pakistan’s fiscal situation have started emerging in the shape of a larger-than-anticipated budget deficit.

Independent analysts argue that Washington may not play an effective role in resolving the water dispute, as the Obama administration is preparing to hand over the White House to Donald Trump next month.

“Senator Dar indicated that the US support on the principles and legal position of Pakistan will be greatly appreciated,” stated the Finance Ministry.

Early this month, the WB had announced a pause in playing its legally binding role of mediator in the IWT implementation.

In October, Pakistan had approached the WB seeking appointment of the Chairman of Court of Arbitration to resolve a dispute over construction of two mega hydropower projects by India in violation of the IWT.

The Finance Minister told Kerry that the IWT was an international commitment and it was the WB’s responsibility to make sure India honoured the treaty and the water rights of hundreds of millions of Pakistani people were protected, said the finance ministry.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 13:03 IST

Taiwan announces U.S. itinerary for president, upsetting China | Reuters

By J.R. Wu

TAIPEI Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will transit through Houston and San Francisco during a January visit to allies in Latin America, her office said Friday, prompting China to repeat a call for the United States to block any such stopover. Tsai’s office declined to comment on whether she would be meeting members of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s team, but the U.S. mission in Taiwan, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), said the visit would be “private and unofficial”.Trump angered China when he spoke to Tsai this month in a break with decades of precedent and cast doubt on his incoming administration’s commitment to Beijing’s “one China” policy.An adviser to Trump’s transition team said he thought “further high-level engagement for the foreseeable future is unlikely” when asked if any meetings were planned. The adviser did not want to be identified by name.China is deeply suspicious of Tsai, who it thinks wants to push for the formal independence of Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing regards as a renegade province, ineligible for state-to-state relations.China’s Foreign Ministry repeated a previous call for the United States not to allow the transit and not send any “wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces”.

“We think everyone is very clear on her real intentions,” the ministry said, without explaining.The United States, which switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, has acknowledged the Chinese position that there is only “one China” and that Taiwan is part of it.Tsai is transiting through the United States on her way to and from visiting Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador. She will leave Taiwan on Jan. 7 and return on Jan. 15.Tsai will arrive in Houston on Jan. 7 and leave the following day. On her return, she will arrive in San Francisco on Jan. 13, Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang told a regular news briefing.

The AIT said the transit did not contradict the “one China” policy.”President Tsai’s transit through the United States is based on long-standing U.S. practice and is consistent with the unofficial nature of our relations with Taiwan,” Alys Spensley, acting AIT spokeswoman, told Reuters.”There is no change to the U.S. ‘one China’ policy,” she added.

Spensley said Tsai’s transits would be “private and unofficial”. The U.S. State Department said AIT chairman Ambassador James Moriarty would greet Tsai in Houston and San Francisco.China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong’s Communist forces won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists fled to the island.Speaking to members of China’s largely ceremonial advisory body to parliament on Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said next year China would make “unremitting efforts” at unification and developing peaceful relations across the Taiwan Strait, state news agency Xinhua said.Taiwan had as many as 30 diplomatic allies in the mid-1990s, but now has formal relations with 21, mostly smaller and poorer nations in Latin America and the Pacific and also including the Vatican. (Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Nick Macfie and James Dalgleish)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 22:41 IST

31-year-old American tourist arrested for possessing satellite phone

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 31-year-old American tourist was arrested after being allegedly found in possession of a satellite phone, banned in India, while on his way to board a flight back home at the airport here, police said ton Sunday.Marks Jordan Andrew, a US citizen, was detained on Saturday after Immigration officials found the satellite phone in his bag.He was questioned by CISF, in-charge of airport security, and later handed over to local police.The American was arrested and a case registered under the Wireless and Telegraph Act, police said.He was produced before a city court which remanded him to 14 days judicial custody.Andrew, hailing from California, had arrived here via Mumbai-Bengaluru and was on his way back to US via Dubai when he was intercepted.Police said Andrew told them that he was unaware that satellite phones are banned in the country.

Man Booker Prize winner to headline Zee Jaipur LitFest

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Paul Beatty, fresh off his Man Booker Prize win, will be the star draw at the upcoming Zee Jaipur Literature Festival which begins January 19 next year. The Los Angeles-based author bagged the pound 50,000 prize for his novel, The Sellout, in October, becoming the first American to win it.Beatty heads a list of around 250 best-selling, award-winning authors, filmmakers, politicians, journalists, historians, professors, etc who’ll make it to the festival which completes 10 years this year. Among them are Alice Walker, the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction; Anne Waldman, a leading American poet; and Booker winners Alan Hollinghurst (2004) and Richard Flanagan (2014).Margo Jefferson, whose Negroland sketches a picture of a black society very different from the dysfunctioning, poverty-stricken stereotype one encounters generally, also makes her debut appearance at Jaipur this year. As do Eka Kurniawan, the first Indonesian to be nominated for a Man Booker International Prize this year for Beauty is a Wound.Also, NoViolet Bulawayo, the first Zimbabwean author to be nominated for the Man Booker for her novel, We Need New Names.The Indian writers in English brigade is a little thin this year featuring, among others, Vikram Chandra, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Manju Kapoor, Keki Daruwalla, Manu Joseph, Raghu Karnad, Arshia Sattar, Ashwin Sanghi, and others. A surprise participant is Naseem Shafaie, the first Kashmiri female writer to get a Sahitya Akademi award last year.ZEE JLF generally is strong on film glamour, and this year the star attractions will be Rishi Kapoor, and Aishwarya Dhanush, Rajinikant’s daughter. From the international community, there’ll be directors Neil Jordan The Crying Game and Stephen Frears Dangerous Liaisons, The Queen – both first-timers at the festival.Look out also for Chinese writer Mei Fong, who’s written a book on China’s one-child policy; former US ambassador to India Robert Blackwill; and Hyeonseo Lee, a North Korean defector living in Seoul, who has recently come out with her memoirs. The sessions with Korean-born economist Ha-Joon Chang, author of 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism, will generate interest, as will the ones with Newsnight’s long time presenter Jeremy Paxman, whose abrasive interviewing style is supposed to have been the template for Arnab Goswami.

We did great with the Hindus, want to thank you: Donald Trump

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>US President-elect Donald Trump has acknowledged the contribution of Indian-Americans in his electoral triumph, saying his victorious campaign did “great with the Hindus”.”We have a lot of people here tonight from the Indian community, Hindus. We did great with the Hindus,” Trump said while addressing thousands of his supporters during a “Thank You” rally in Orlando, Florida, the key battle ground state where he emerged victorious.The event in Florida, which has a sizeable Indian-American population, was attended by a large number of community members. This is for the first time that Trump has acknowledged the contribution of Indian-Americans and Hindus in his historic electoral victory. “Where are they? We have a big group. There they are. I want to thank you. You folks were amazing. They were amazing and voted and they were fantastic,” Trump said, pointing his fingers to the Indian-American community present at the rally.Fortnight before the elections, Trump attended a charity event organised by Republican Hindu Coalition to raise funds for Hindu victims of terror in Kashmir and Bangladesh. This was for the first time a presidential candidate attended an Indian-American event.In his address, Trump pledged to work for betterment of India-US relationship and said he would be the best friend of India in the White House. He praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his economic reforms and steps that he has taken to remove bureaucratic red tape. After Trump’s address, his family members visited temples in both Florida and Virginia; a first time for a presidential campaign.The Trump Campaign also released an advertisement in which he was seen saying “Aab Ki Baar Trump Sarkar”, copying Modi’s historic 2014 election punchline.Republican Hindu Coalition chairman Shalabh Salli Kumar said all this had an impact on voting pattern of Indian- Americans, who traditionally have been a strong Democratic supporters. Based on a survey, Kumar said more than 60% of the community members voted for Trump this time.In his address, Trump asked people to dream big. “Dream big and bold and daring. I am asking you to believe in yourself and asking you to believe in America. Together we will make America great again,” he said.Trump reiterated his plan of extreme vetting of refugee, asylum and visa applicants seeking to enter the US from regions where terrorists have strongholds. He said his administration will suspend immigration from some regions where applicants “cannot be safely processed or vetted” due to a lack of government records.

India-US defence partnership: Industries, not governments, can make it a success

In a recently-held national seminar (14 December) on the status of defence industry in the country, which was attended by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, some panelists did point out, cursorily though, the significance of India being granted the unique status by the United States as its ‘Major Defence Partner’ (MDP). The partnership, if pursued both in letter and spirit, will boost Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India” programme in the defence sector so that India could not only become self-reliant in arms but also emerge as a major exporter of arms. However there remains the question of big “if”, upon which this analysis focuses.

The MDP status to India needs to be seen against the backdrop of the development of the US military industrial complex (MIC). Incidentally, the term “military-industrial-complex” was coined in the US by then president Dwight Eisenhower during the Cold War to welcome the emergence of what is said “the second era” of the American MIC. During the first era, which lasted from 1787 to 1941, the defence sector in the United States consisted totally of the government-owned arsenals and shipyards. However, with the US participating in the Second World War, Franklin Roosevelt established the “War Production Board” by conscripting the major private industries, particularly those in the automobile sector, into wartime service. But after the war ended, not only did these private companies, such as Boeing and General Motors stay and consolidate their involvement in the military sector, they were also joined by others like AT&T, General Electric and IBM.

One of the important features of this second era was that the Pentagon financed the private sector, which, in turn, created world class technologies that were for use by not only the military but also by ordinary citizens. One can cite in this regard the examples of drone, night vision goggles, GPS in cars, and most important, the internet.

File image of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar with Defence Secretary Ash Carter at a joint news conference at the Pentagon. News18

File image of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar with Defence Secretary Ash Carter at a joint news conference at the Pentagon. News18

The end of the Cold War in the 1990s saw the emergence of the “third era” (and this prevails at the moment), whose important features are as follows.

First, the industry shifted from diversified conglomerates and was managed by defence-only firms.

Secondly, the contribution of the Pentagon, both financially and technologically, has been declining, thanks to the shrinking defence budgets. As a result, and this is the third feature, the American MICs are increasingly buying commercial technologies (either buying or giving these technology providers shares) such as cloud computing, cyber security, nanotechnology and even smart phones. Just see how Google acquired Boston Dynamics that had created BigDog, a four-legged robot that can support soldiers in rough terrain.

However, these features are increasingly proving insufficient to sustain the US defence industry. Although it is courting commercial companies, it prefers the American ones. It is not globalising itself properly, shunning the option of co-producing products abroad with allies and friends the way the Japanese and Koreans are developing their technologies and manufacturing brands in foreign countries, from where they are exporting them to various parts of the world. America’s F-35 example, by distributing the burden of the development cost of the fifth generation fighter plane with some Nato allies, is said to be insufficient.

No wonder William J Lynn III, a former US deputy secretary of defence argues for starting a new fourth era in which the Pentagon must take a more active role in recruiting outside companies, “keeping in mind that their futures are inextricably intertwined”. According to him, “The United States has the opportunity to look beyond its borders to turn this fourth era to its advantage. Since the Second World War, the country’s technological advantages have protected its national security. To maintain that advantage, the United States must adapt to — and ultimately embrace — the trends that will come to define its future”.

Can India fit into this scheme of things, particularly when Modi’s much-repeated calls to ‘Make in India’ continue to remain in the headlines? The US thinks that India can. The MDP status is a logical conclusion of this trend. In essence, it paves the way for India to be treated at par with America’s closest allies — Nato partners and countries with security treaties — such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea on defence-related trade and technology transfer.

In fact, the idea of the MDP was agreed upon during the summit meeting between Modi and President Barack Obama in June this year. “Noting that the US-India defense relationship can be an anchor of stability and given the increasingly strengthened cooperation in defense, the United States hereby recognises India as a Major Defence Partner,” the joint statement of the June meeting had stated.

However, this accorded status to India by Obama required the subsequent Congressional approval as per the American laws.

Although the House of Representatives endorsed the idea, the Senate sought more clarifications. It was not that the Senate was against granting the unique status to India; it was apparently not happy with “the definition of ‘major defence partner’ designation that had been left a little unclear and vague by the administration.” Accordingly, the differences were reconciled and a separate section on ‘Enhancing defense and security cooperation with India’ (Section 1292) was added in “The National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2017 (the US military’s budget for next year), which was passed by the House of Representatives first and then in the Senate. The NDAA, likely to be signed by Obama within a week’s time for legal enforcement, ensures the continuity of the MDP status to India under the future governments as well.

Section 1292 of the NDAA asks the secretaries of defence and state to take steps necessary to recognise India as America’s major defence partner of the U.S. and asks the administration “to designate an individual within the executive branch who has experience in defence acquisition and technology to reinforce and ensure, through inter-agency policy coordination, the success of the Framework for the US-India Defence Relationship; and to help resolve remaining issues impeding US-India defence trade, security cooperation, and co-production and co-development opportunities.”

It also calls for “approval and facilitation of transfer of advanced technology, consistent with US conventional arms transfer policy, to support combined military planning with India’s military for missions such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counter-piracy, freedom of navigation, and maritime domain awareness missions, and to promote weapons systems interoperability.” Further, it seeks “collaboration with India to develop mutually agreeable mechanisms to verify the security of defence articles, defence services and related technology such as appropriate cyber security and end use monitoring arrangements consistent with US’ export control laws and policy.” In fact, it asks the secretaries of defence and state to submit within 180 days of the passage of the Act to the Congressional Defence Committees and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives “a report on how the US is supporting its defence relationship with India”.

File image of Narendra Modi and Barack Obama. AP

File image of Narendra Modi and Barack Obama. AP

It was against this background that US defence secretary Ashton Carter visited India last week to meet Parrikar (their seventh interaction in the past two years). They finalised India’s designation as a ‘Major Defence Partner’ of the US. As the joint statement issued after their meeting (8 December) said, “The designation as a ‘Major Defence Partner’ is a status unique to India and institutionalises the progress made to facilitate defense trade and technology sharing with India to a level at par with that of the United States’ closest allies and partners, and ensures enduring cooperation into the future.” In concrete terms what it means is that India now can get access to “99 percent of the US defence technologies” as the export hurdle of high-tech US military hardware and technology to India is removed. India will also receive licence-free access to a wide range of dual-use technologies in conjunction with steps that India has committed to take to advance its export control objectives. The US government will inform the review of requests to export defence articles, defence services, or related technology to India under the Arms Export Control Act, and inform any regulatory and policy adjustments that may be appropriate.

American officials say that the MDP status is in support of India’s ‘Make in India’ initiative towards the development of robust defence industries and their integration into the global supply chain. The United States will facilitate the export of goods and technologies for these industries through joint ventures, meaning thereby that the US is now more than willing to transform its defence cooperation with India from “simply buying and selling” to “co-production, co-development, and freer exchange of technology”.

However, one has to become a little cautious with regard to actual progress of the India-US defence industrial partnership. When one talks of US investment in the Indian defence sector, it should be realised that the ability of the American government to be a source of investment is quite limited. It simply does not have enough investible reserves. Instead, the investible resources are in the US private sector, which, in turn, make their own judgments of where to invest, depending on the recipient country’s infrastructures, legal regime, administrative machinery, and above all broad political consensus on liberalisation of the economy. There is then another limiting factor of the present inabilities of India’s arms industries to absorb the technologies that foreign companies are prepared to transfer. It may be noted in this context that if India and France were not able to fructify the original Rafale MMRCA deal, it was due to as much monetary factor as the lack of absorptive capability for the licensed production of the Rafale.

Unfortunately, the Modi government has a lot to do on all these fronts.

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 13:53 IST

Hindus have ‘lowest level of education’ among major religions: Pew survey

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hindus continue to have the lowest level of educational attainment among other major religions of the world despite having made substantial educational gains in recent decade, a latest Pew research said.”Hindus have made substantial educational gains in recent decades. Hindu adults (ages 25 and older) in the youngest generation analysed in the study, for example, have an average of 3.4 more years of schooling than those in the oldest generation,” Pew said.However, Hindus still have the lowest level of educational attainment of any major religious group in this study which is topped by Jews. Globally, the average 5.6 years of schooling, and 41 per cent of Hindus have no formal education of any kind. One-in-ten have post-secondary degrees, the report said.At the same time, despite large gains by Hindu women across generations, Hindus still have the largest educational gender gap of any religious group, said the report titled ‘Religion and Education Around the World Large’ released by Pew Research Center.In its report, running into 160 pages, Pew said Jews are more highly educated than any other major religious group around the world, while Muslims and Hindus tend to have the fewest years of formal schooling.Drawing on census and survey data from 151 countries, the study also finds large gender gaps in educational attainment within some major world religions.”For example, Muslim women around the globe have an average of 4.9 years of schooling, compared with 6.4 years among Muslim men. And formal education is especially low among Hindu women, who have 4.2 years of schooling on average, compared with 6.9 years among Hindu men,” the report said.”On average, Hindu men have 2.7 more years of schooling than Hindu women, and just over half of Hindu women (53 per cent) have no formal schooling, compared with 29 per cent of Hindu men,” the report said, adding that even in the youngest generation of adults in the study, Hindu women are considerably more likely than Hindu men to have received no formal education (38 per cent vs 20 per cent).The vast majority of the world’s Hindus live in India (94 per cent) or in the bordering countries of Nepal (2.3 per cent) and Bangladesh (1.2 per cent).”In these three countries, Hindus tend to have low levels of education; in India, Hindus average 5.5 years of schooling, while in Nepal and Bangladesh they average 3.9 and 4.6 years, respectively,” Pew said.”However, in countries outside the Asia-Pacific region, where Hindus are a small religious minority, they are much more highly educated and often are the most highly educated religious group in a particular country,” the report noted.For instance, Hindus in the US have 15.7 years of schooling, on average a full year more than the next most highly educated US religious group (Jews), and nearly three years more than the average American adult (12.9 years).Hindus in Europe also are highly educated, averaging 13.9 years of schooling, Pew said.

Modi Govt. has no plans to lax norms for US donor agency Compassion International

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Despite strong US pressure, India has decided to stick to its decision of keeping Colorado-based child rights donor agency, Compassion International under prior permission watch list.Highly placed government sources said, the government has no plans to remove Compassion International from the prior permission category under which it was put in May this year on Intelligence Bureau’s assessment report for being involved in religious conversions.The tough stand of the government comes a day after US ambassador at-Large for international religious freedom David Saperstein said on Monday that US was hopeful of Indian government “accommodating” their concerns about Compassion international.”We are deeply concerned when civil society organizations who act peacefully are restricted from carrying out their obligations by the government. We really hope that groups like Compassion International, who have indicated they are willing to live by the laws of the land will be allowed to continue their partnership here,” said Saperstein adding the donor agency has communicated that if there have been any violations, though they have seen no documentation, they will fix it.However, the government official said Official said there are no plans to entertain US request and take Compassion International out from the prior permission watch list as, he claimed, there have been cases where people have been given inducements to convert their religion which country’s anti-conversion law does not permit.”The home ministry is only allowing Compassion to given grant to NGOs on case to case basis as per the prior permission category rules. So far we have got request to clear grant for 35 NGOs of which we cleared grant for 10 NGOs last month. We have received report on nine more NGOs and will soon release the grant to them if they are found not involved in religious conversions, “said the source. The home ministry had cleared Compassion’s grant of Rs. 2 crore to 10 NGOs last month.Last week, in what seemed India was softening its stand, additional secretary of foreigner division, Bipin Mallick, who was instrumental in cracking down on several NGOs was transferred to another division.Informed sources, however, believe that the government decided not to soften its stand fearing backlash from strong anti-conversion Hindu lobby back at home. A few days back, top American lawmakers had expressed grave concern over the alleged curbs imposed on a Christian charity organisation, whose representatives appeared before a Congressional hearing seeking change in New Delhi’s policies related to foreign funding of NGOs.”It is my hope that by bringing attention to this issue, as we’re doing here today, the 145,000 children will not be tragically denied the services they desperately need, and that American families… can continue to send the US $38 a month for food and education fees to the poorest of the poor,” Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the powerful House Foreign Relations Committee had said in his opening remarks.

Slain ISIS operative indoctrinated, recruited 5 Hyderabad men

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A key Islamic State (IS) planner from its External Operations division, known by his alias Abu Isa al Amriki, has been identified by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) as one of the main handlers who indoctrinated and recruited five Hyderabad men who conspired to form an IS-inspired module.This is the first time the NIA has identified overseas handlers in its investigation establishing a link that the module in India was set up on the directives of IS based in Syria/Iraq.Amriki will be named in the charge sheet on the Hyderabad module to be filed this month, as one of the handlers from the IS directed to recruit from India, senior NIA officials told DNA. The NIA, in June, arrested five men – Ibrahim and Ilyas Yazdani, Habib Mohammad, Mohammad Irfan and Abdullah Bin Ahmad. They were carrying explosives and weapons for allegedly carrying out terror attacks in the name of IS.Amriki, believed to be an American citizen, was a Sudanese national and was also known as Abu Saad al Sudani. He was killed in an airstrike by US coalition forces on April 22 this year, along with his wife Umm Isa al Amriki, an Australian national. Pentagon has also confirmed Amriki’s role as a planner in the IS’ external operations division, headed by Abu Mohammad al-Adnani mastermind behind the deadly attacks in France, the US, Belgium and Turkey.”Forensic investigation on chat messages, emails, online communication and interrogation of the five suspects has revealed that they received instructions from IS operatives. Based on the IP addresses, the language in chat messages, conversations and accent, we have established that Amirki was one of the handlers. There is also a second handler based in Syria, who seems to be of Indian origin,” asenior NIA officer said.Amriki is booked as a conspirator in the New York New Year’s eve attack in 2015, wherein accused Emanuel L Lutchman, an American citizen from Rochester, New York, pleaded guilty of planning to carry out terrorist attack in the name of IS.The NIA officer said that the modus operandi followed by Amriki in recruiting Lutchman and the Hyderabad men online was strikingly similar. Amriki introduced himself as an IS member based in Syria and encouraged Ibrahim to travel to the Caliphate and join the IS.After the two failed attempts to travel to Syria via Greece and Turkey, Ibrahim came into contact with a second handler – an Urdu speaking IS fighter, whose leads were given by Amriki – in November. The second handler convinced Ibrahim that there was no need to travel to Syria and he should stay in India and continue to do his work (jihad). This included recruiting more members, setting up a module, procuring explosives and carrying out terror attacks.The five suspects also issued a bayah (pledge of allegiance) in the name of IS leader Abu Bakar al Baghdadi, signed and sent through email to the second handler. NIA says he is still active online and he is operating and responding from IS-controlled areas, possibly Aleppo or Raqqa.

Time magazine names U.S. President-elect Trump Person of the Year | Reuters

WASHINGTON Time Magazine named U.S. President-elect Donald Trump its person of the year on Wednesday, citing the upheaval in American politics brought about by the New York businessman’s election campaign and victory.”It’s hard to measure the scale of his disruption,” Time said in its announcement, noting Trump’s career as real estate magnate and reality television star before he won the presidency on Nov. 8.The Republican president-elect, who will be sworn in on Jan. 20, ran an unconventional and controversial campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton. Time noted that views of him were deeply divided.”For those who believe this is all for the better, Trump’s victory represents a long-overdue rebuke to an entrenched and arrogant governing class,” the magazine said.”For those who see it as for the worse, the destruction extends to cherished norms of civility and discourse, a politics poisoned by vile streams of racism, sexism, nativism.”

The magazine said its short list for person of the year included Clinton, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and singer Beyonce.”It’s a great honor, it means a lot,” Trump told NBC’s “Today” show in an interview shortly after the announcement.

But he rejected Time’s characterization of the country as fractured. The magazine’s cover called him the “president of the divided states of America.””I didn’t divide them, they’re divided now,” he told NBC. “We’re going to put it back together.” He added: “I think putting ‘divided’ is snarky.”

Time makes its annual choice based on the impact a person has on world events, for better or for worse. Last year the magazine chose German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Previous winners have ranged from Mahatma Gandhi to Adolf Hitler. (Reporting by Susan Heavey, Doina Chiacu and Bill Trott; Editing by Alden Bentley and Frances Kerry)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 20:41 IST

23 nations celebrate release of Diwali stamp in US

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Over 20 countries, including two UN Security Council permanent members France and the UK, have supported a dedication ceremony hosted by India to commemorate the release of a Diwali postage stamp by the US.India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Syed Akbaruddin said at the event here yesterday the Diwali Forever Stamp is a “shining tribute to the celebration of multi-culturalism”.Noting that Diwali was commemorated for the first time this year at the UN, Akbaruddin said the celebration of Diwali at the world body is a reaffirmation of the foundational objectives of the UN Charter and its purposes and principles, which stand as a force for universal good. “Though celebrated by different communities for different reasons, the essence of the (Diwali) celebration is the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness.Philosophically, thn e fight is not only external but also withioneself,” he said.The event lauded the efforts of Ranju Batra, Chair of the Diwali stamp project who spearheaded efforts for years to get the commemorative stamp issued, reaching out to the Indian- American community members and influential lawmakers, garnering support for the stamp. “The tens of thousands of paper petitions (for the Diwali stamp) were signed not only by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists but also by Christians, Jews, Muslims and every other faith and culture,” Batra said, expressing gratitude for the support she got in her journey to get the stamp issued.Capping seven-year long efforts by the Indian-American community and influential US lawmakers, the US Postal Service (USPS) had issued the commemorative Diwali stamp to mark the Indian festival of lights. Over 170,000 Diwali stamps have been sold, making history by becoming the number one best-selling stamp in USPS history. “Today’s celebration is not of a religion or of a nation but it is of the spirit of harmonious inclusiveness and cultural understanding that all religions deserve,” she said.Earlier, 20 nations had come together to support a special stamp dedication ceremony co-hosted by the Permanent Missions of India and Belarus. Eminent Indian-American attorney Ravi Batra said the event has being supported and celebrated by 23 nations, of which “12 are Christian, one Jewish, six Muslim… 23 nations spread across the world are celebrating not only the Diwali stamp but celebrating hope itself”.The 23 nations that supported the event include Armenia, Austria, Cyprus, France, Georgia, Honduras, Kuwait, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Ukraine, the UK and Vietnam. The Diwali Forever Stamp was formally launched by the USPS in October and the stamp was issued in November.

Ashton Carter to visit India in his last overseas visit as US Defence Secretary

Washington: Days ahead of his visit to India, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter on Sunday said that the defense ties between the world’s two largest democracies has never been as close as it is now with their militaries exercising together by air, land and sea like never before.

“The US-India defense relationship is the closest it’s ever been. Through our strategic handshake – with America reaching west in the re-balance, and India reaching east in what Prime Minister Modi calls his Act East policy – our two nations are exercising together by air, land and sea like never before,” Carter said in his address to the Regan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California.

Slated to be in India on 8 December, Carter would travel to Japan, Bahrain, Israel, Italy and the UK. This is for the first time that an outgoing American Defence Secretary has included India in his itinerary for the final overseas trip.

A file photo of Ashton Carter. APA file photo of Ashton Carter. AP

A file photo of Ashton Carter. AP

“We also have a technological handshake — as the US — India Defence Technology and Trade Initiative, grasps hands with Prime Minister Modi’s Make in India campaign — that’s helping our countries move toward more diverse co-development and co-production of weapons systems,” Carter said.

Carter would meet Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and other leaders during his trip to New Delhi. “He (Carter) will look to build on the strategic handshake between the two nations and to continue the momentum in the relationship over the past decade, including expanded defence cooperation during his time as Secretary,” the Pentagon had said in a statement last week.

Carter said the US-Japan alliance remains the cornerstone of Asia-Pacific security. “And with our new Defense Guidelines, the US-Japan alliance has never been stronger, or more capable of contributing to security in the Asia-Pacific and beyond,” he said.

Carter also reflected on the re-balance strategy of US President Barack Obama. “It will ensure DoD continues to help provide the security necessary for that consequential region — which is home to nearly half the global population and nearly half the global economy — to remain a place where everyone can rise and prosper for decades to come,” he said.

“That’s been American policy and practice since the end of World War II more than 70 years ago. Regardless of what else was going on at home or in other parts of the world — during Democratic and Republican administrations, in times of surplus and deficit, war and peace – the United States has remained economically, politically, and militarily engaged in the Asia-Pacific,” he said.

The US, he said, has long taken a principled and inclusive approach, and collaborated with a network of regional allies and partners to enable security and uphold important principles like resolving disputes peacefully;
ensuring countries can make choices free from external coercion and intimidation; and preserving the freedom of overflight and navigation guaranteed by international law.

“Because we did so, out of the rubble of World War II, economic miracle after miracle has occurred. Think about it….first Japan, then Taiwan, South Korea, and Southeast Asia rose and prospered, and today, China and India are doing the same,” Carter said.

That progress has produced incredible changes in the region: populations are growing, education has improved, freedom and self-determination have spread, economies have grown more interconnected, and military spending and cooperation are growing, he added.

“Amid all this remarkable change and progress, America’s interests and objectives in the Asia-Pacific have endured: we still want peace, stability, and progress there. But as the region has changed, our approach to how we meet those interests and uphold those enduring principles has had to change along with it,” he added.

First Published On : Dec 4, 2016 13:59 IST

American tourist gang-raped in Delhi, police registers FIR

Sat, 3 Dec 2016-05:20pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi Police on Saturday registered an FIR based on a complaint filed by an NGO alleging that an American tourist was raped by five men at a five-star hotel in Connaught Place in March.The complaint was filed through an email. It alleged that five men had entered the woman’s room on the pretext of some tour and travel-related work and raped her.The victim did not approach police as she was scared and returned to the US. The accused also threatened her of dire consequences if she told anybody about it, the complaint said. “An FIR was today registered in connection with the incident,” Delhi Police spokesperson and Joint Commissioner of Police (South West) Dependra Pathak said.

Exclusive – Standards council to investigate New Oriental after Reuters report | Reuters

By Steve Stecklow

MIAMI A U.S. standards-setting body said it would investigate New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc (EDU.N) in the wake of a Reuters report that detailed allegations of academic fraud at the company.The American International Recruitment Council, which certifies agencies that recruit foreign students on behalf of U.S. colleges, will investigate the company in response to the report, said Jeet Joshee, AIRC’s president-elect. “It’s concerning, highly concerning,” he said of the allegations in the report.The article can be read here: is a non-profit membership organisation comprised of 289 colleges and universities and 78 agencies that refer foreign students to U.S. schools often for a commission. It establishes best practices for international student recruitment and certifies agencies in a process that includes inspections.Joshee said AIRC certified New Oriental’s counselling division – Beijing New Oriental Vision Overseas Consultancy Co — about three or four years ago. He said AIRC could revoke the certification if the fraud accusations are confirmed.

Reuters reported today that eight former and current New Oriental employees had told the news agency that the Beijing-based company had helped to write college application essays and teacher recommendations, and had falsified a high school transcript. A New Oriental student contract reviewed by Reuters stated that its services included “writing or polishing” parts of applications. The contract also said New Oriental would set up an email account on behalf of the client for communicating with colleges, keeping sole control of the password. Several former employees said some students never even saw their applications.“It’s most concerning that they would actually handle the whole application for a student,” said Joshee, who chairs AIRC’s certification body. Joshee also serves as associate vice president for international education at California State University, Long Beach.

New Oriental denies condoning or wittingly engaging in application fraud. The publicly listed company, with annual revenue of $1.5 billion, is China’s largest provider of private education services.The company’s American Depositary Receipts, which trade on the New York Stock Exchange, were down $1.02 Friday afternoon at $47.97 a share, off 2.1 percent on the day.

In addition to offering college counselling services to thousands of Chinese students seeking to study in the U.S., New Oriental has contracts with colleges including Arizona State University, the University of Cincinnati and Temple University. Those colleges pay New Oriental commissions when it refers students who enrol.Two New Oriental employees at AIRC’s annual convention in Miami told Reuters the company had “relationships” with about 100 U.S. colleges and universities. They declined to say how many of those schools pay commissions to New Oriental.Joshee said his school – California State, Long Beach – signed a contract this year with New Oriental, although it hasn’t provided any students to date. He said the university normally pays agents $1,500 to $2,000 for each student who enrols. He said his university would await the results of AIRC’s probe before taking any action. (Edited by Michael Williams)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 3, 2016 00:30 IST

Exclusive – U.S. standards council to investigate New Oriental after Reuters report | Reuters

By Steve Stecklow

MIAMI A U.S. standards-setting body said it would investigate New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc (EDU.N) in the wake of a Reuters report that detailed allegations of academic fraud at the company.The American International Recruitment Council, which certifies agencies that recruit foreign students on behalf of U.S. colleges, will investigate the company in response to the report, said Jeet Joshee, AIRC’s president-elect. “It’s concerning, highly concerning,” he said of the allegations in the report.The article can be read here: of New Oriental plunged after the council told Reuters of its plan to open a probe. The drop in the stock, as much as 24 percent at one point on Friday afternoon, wiped out more than $1.8 billion from the company’s stock market value at its lowest point. It was last down about 14 percent at $42.16.AIRC is a non-profit membership organisation comprised of 289 colleges and universities and 78 agencies that refer foreign students to U.S. schools often for a commission. It establishes best practices for international student recruitment and certifies agencies in a process that includes inspections.

Joshee said AIRC certified New Oriental’s counselling division -– Beijing New Oriental Vision Overseas Consultancy Co — about three or four years ago. He said AIRC could revoke the certification if the fraud accusations are confirmed.Reuters reported today that eight former and current New Oriental employees had told the news agency that the Beijing-based company had helped to write college application essays and teacher recommendations, and had falsified a high school transcript. A New Oriental student contract reviewed by Reuters stated that its services included “writing or polishing” parts of applications. The contract also said New Oriental would set up an email account on behalf of the client for communicating with colleges, keeping sole control of the password. Several former employees said some students never even saw their applications.

“It’s most concerning that they would actually handle the whole application for a student,” said Joshee, who chairs AIRC’s certification body. Joshee also serves as associate vice president for international education at California State University, Long Beach.New Oriental denies condoning or wittingly engaging in application fraud. The publicly listed company, with annual revenue of $1.5 billion, is China’s largest provider of private education services.The company’s American Depositary Receipts, which trade on the New York Stock Exchange, were down $1.02 Friday afternoon at $47.97 a share, off 2.1 percent on the day.

In addition to offering college counselling services to thousands of Chinese students seeking to study in the United States, New Oriental has contracts with colleges including Arizona State University, the University of Cincinnati and Temple University. Those colleges pay New Oriental commissions when it refers students who enrol.Two New Oriental employees at AIRC’s annual convention in Miami told Reuters the company had “relationships” with about 100 U.S. colleges and universities. They declined to say how many of those schools pay commissions to New Oriental.Joshee said his school – California State, Long Beach – signed a contract this year with New Oriental, although it has not provided any students to date. He said the university normally pays agents $1,500 to $2,000 for each student who enrols. He said his university would await the results of AIRC’s probe before taking any action. (Edited by Michael Williams and Lisa Shumaker)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 3, 2016 00:30 IST

PM Modi better than Donald Trump: Kanhaiya Kumar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “better” than the US President-elect Donald Trump. Kumar was speaking at a panel discussion on ‘From Bihar to Tihar’ at Times LitFest here.”Despite several differences (he may have with Narendra Modi), Modi is better than Trump. There has been a rise in authoritative sentiment across the world and if you see the kind of language that was used in (US) presidential election, the comments made against migrants and women were unprecedented,” said Kumar, who earlier this year faced a sedition case over ‘anti-national’ slogans at Jawaharlal Nehru University.The student leader quoted the iconic African American leader Martin Luther King, saying “bad people are shouting not because they are more powerful but because the good people are quiet.”Speaking about Najeeb Ahmed, JNU student who has been missing for the past several weeks, Kumar said, “Government is actually doing nothing but throwing some issues before us. It is happening because there is no powerful opposition that would keep a check on this government. The issues of Dadri (lynching by cow-vigilantes), JNU’s anti-national slogans and Najeeb’s missing are being diverted.”In Dadri case, the committee is focusing on whether it was beef or not, in Rohith Vemula case the committee was set up to decide his caste, in JNU’s anti-national slogan case the committee was set up to find out whether footage was doctored or not and there are many other similar cases,” he said. Why no charge sheet was filed in the JNU anti-national slogans case even after nine months if the government was serious, Kumar asked.

New Delhi: American national alleges sexual assault by five men in hotel

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An American national has alleged that she was sexually assaulted by five men, including a tourist guide, at a 5-star hotel in New Delhi district.The alleged incident is said to have taken place in March this year. The complaint has been forwarded by email after an NGO intervened on Friday. The police is verifying the claims and trying to contact the victim who lives abroad. A case is likely to be registered. ‎

Eight television shows that every 90s’ kid will always love

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>There can be no escape from the incessant brag of a 90’s kid, trying in every way possible, to assert how and why their ‘growing up’ was way more colourful than that of teens/ pre-teens today. Honestly, you really cannot defy their stance either, especially when they draw reference to the kind of shows they grew up watching. After all, the kind of media content we consume, does have a direct impact in shaping our perspective.So, let’s have a look at some such shows which still hold a very special place in those old school hearts.RugratsIf you have grown up among a bunch of pesky siblings, this show would be a strong recommendation. Aired over a span of 13 years, this Nickelodeon show offers an insight into the mind of every troublemaker ever. A definite laugh riot, Rugrats won many accolades for the brilliant voice-overs and impeccable animation.The X-FilesPossibly the first exposure of every 90s’ kid to sci-fi flicks and horror narratives, X-Files knew how to run a chill down our bones. Also, no denying the diddly-eyed charm of FBI special agent, Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), who was almost every girl’s secret inspiration, and every boy’s first crush. Two special FBI agents trying to unearth marginalized, unsolved cases involving paranormal phenomena, this was one show everyone watched with baited breath, back in the days.Lizzie McGuireThough not quite a 90s’ phenomenon, yet something almost every 90s’ someone grew up watching. This show shot to fame because of how relatable the lives of the characters were. While in most shows the protagonist would essentially live a life far from reality, Lizzie was just your average awkward teen, struggling to sail through her school days. Another beautiful narrative about familial ties and friendship, Lizzie McGuire was quite a fashion inspiration too!He-Man and the Masters of the UniverseBefore Justice League or X-Men stole the show, we had He-Man — a young lad with herculean strength, trying to save the world from evil, along with his girlfriend Trilla, of course. This show ruled the heart of every 90s’ kid for the longest time. Guess what? You could find He-Man figurines in select stores too.Johnny BravoThe quintessential bad boy of the days — he was just the kind your mother would ask you to stay away from. The muscular casanova, perpetually had his head in the air, and despite making a fool of himself every single time, he stayed just as dauntless. So, in case you are looking for some inspiration to kick start your day, may be catch an episode or two.Malcom in the middleFrankie Muniz’s elfin charm aside, this sitcom revolved around a rather bizarre family. Malcom, played by the charming Frankie, is a very gifted geek, who feels like he is perpetually stuck with the wrong bunch of people. Not exactly what you would call a laugh riot, but relatable, and funny, definitely.Beverly Hills, 90210Fancy peeking into the school lives of rich spoiled brats? Here’s your chance. With an enviable glamour quotient and a crazy good looking gang of kids, this show is recommended if you are keen to learn about the lives of some young adults, whose realities were a little different from yours.Small WonderWell, if you haven’t seen Small Wonder, you were totally living under a rock. The pretty little robot who became an American sweetheart in no time, became a household name the world over too. Throughout the series, the father (creator) of V.I.C.I (the robot), struggles to hide her identity and passes her off as his own. Though this series was later adapted in a Hindi soap opera, Karishma ka Karishma, it failed to live up to the popularity of the original series.

DNA Evening Must Reads: Nikki Haley as US ambassador to UN, opposition intensifies protests over demonetization, and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Donald Trump picks Indian-American Nikki Haley as US ambassador to the United NationsSouth Carolina’s Indian-American Governor Nikki Haley has accepted President-elect Donald Trump’s offer to serve as US ambassador to the United Nations, a leading American newspaper reported on Wednesday. Read more here. Opposition stand in line against demonetization, nationwide protest on MondayAs demonetization entered third week, political fight intensified with the opposition parties protesting at the Gandhi statue near parliament in Delhi on Wednesday, while BJP decried alleged “malicious” attempts by those opposing the drive to provoke violence and chaos. Follow live updates here.Counter-offensive: Pakistan says at least nine killed, 11 injured in Indian shellingIndian shelling across the frontier into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir hit a bus, killing at least nine people and wounding 11, Pakistani officials said, as tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours simmers. Read more here. Indian women’s cricket team to forfeit Pakistan matches: ICCIndia have forfeited three matches of the International Cricket Council Women’s Championship for failing to play scheduled fixtures against Pakistan amid ongoing political tension between the South Asian rivals. Read more here. Revealed: Why is Alia Bhatt and SRK’s upcoming film called ‘Dear Zindagi’?While we all know that the film is a slice of life film about the problems of a 20-something-girl and how she deals with them, did you know why is the film called ‘Dear’ Zindagi? Find out the reason here.

Drunk heckler arrested as ‘Hamilton’-Trump debacle continues

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ever since the Hamilton cast “lectured” Vice President-elect Mike Pence at a show over the weekend, the Broadway musical has become the centre of attention in Trump discourse. And while it was so far restricted to Pence and President-elect Trump’s opinions, protesters are now getting in on the action.When the Hamilton cast addressed Pence after the Friday show where the audience booed him, they asked him to work for the people and respect the diverse makeup of the American people, instead of discriminating and vilifying some as Trump’s campaign has done so far. Of course, Donald Trump took issue with this gentle suggestion, calling it “rude”, and “harassment”. As such, some of the President-elect’s more vociferous (and less discerning) voters are making a stand.As such, at a Chicago performance of the show on Saturday night, a drunken Trump supporter began yelling at the cast mid-performance, hurling abuses at those around him. It began when the characters Alexander Hamilton and the Marquis de Lafayette rapped the line, “Immigrants, we get the job done,” during a song. The line received its usual round of cheers, being one of the more overt political statements in the show, especially with reference to Trump’s campaign rhetoric this past year. Soon after, an inebriated member of the audience in the balcony began yelling, “We won! You lost! Get over it! F*#k you!”To the cast’s credit, none of them missed a beat, and continued the show flawlessly to give their audience another magical performance. However, a reporter from the Chicago Tribune was present for the show, and reported that the cast took a “somber” bow during the curtain call. The Chicago Sun-Times reported the heckler, later identified as 56-year-old John Palmer, was arrested and charged with one misdemeanor of criminal trespass, when he refused to leave the theater before he was forcibly escorted out.The next day, cast member Karen Olivo tweeted saying, “This is why we train…so when the obstacles come we conquer them with skill and precision.” “We’ll tell the story of tonight. No matter what they tell us,” chimed in cast member Joseph Morales. Another cast member, Justice Deion said on Twitter, “This insanity is to the point where I am scared for my life while doing the show. Leaning on God. Leaning on my cast. We’ll stand strong.”

F-16 fighters sold by US to Pakistan are nuclear-enabled: Scientist

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A study of Google satellite images and information from other intelligence sources by US nuclear scientists Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris released earlier this week contains startling revelations: contrary to the conditions laid down by the US when it sold Pakistan F-16 fighters, the US jets, along with the Pak air force’s French Mirages, are now nuclear-enabled. Speaking exclusively to DNA, Hans Kristensen, co-author of the ‘Nuclear Notebook on Pakistani Nuclear Forces’ released November 16 acknowledged that despite the study, US strategic interests in the region will determine further weapons sales to Pakistan.“The US nuclear establishment can but won’t initiate further action,” the Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists told DNA. “The F-16s were considered to be the first planes that are nuclear-capable in the Pakistan arsenal and the French mirage was upgraded as well to carry a new air launch cruise missile. But the US made its case. What Pakistan does once they get the planes is inevitably up to them,” he said. The worry that prevails — as several attacks on Pakistani military establishments have shown — is that its nuclear arsenal could land in the wrong hands: that of Islamist terrorists. But which of the study’s revelations are new, given that there have been many precedents based upon satellite pictures?“We haven’t had a picture of where Pakistan’s nuclear-capable forces went for a long time but this study throws up a more focused posturing of Pakistan’s nuclear-capable forces and their infrastructure,” Kristensen told DNA. “There will be more to come, this is only the beginning.”Kristensen said that while the number and location of Pakistan’s nuclear-capable missile bases is not known, an analysis of Google satellite images threw up features to suggest that at least five bases might throw light on Pakistan’s emerging nuclear network: army garrisons at Akro, Gujranwala, Khuzdar, Pano Aqil and Sargodha. The scientist speculates that a sixth base at Bawalpur may be under construction while a seventh seems to be coming up near Dera Ghazi Khan. Gujranwala in particular could be of concern to India: this is where the Pakistani Taliban have been active and in the open.Do these revelations indicate that Pakistan has now reached what is known as a ‘full-spectrum nuclear deterrent posture’? Almost, says Kristensen, but warns that it is only a matter of time before Pakistan is fully equipped not only for retaliatory strikes in response to nuclear attacks but also to launch short-range missiles to counter conventional attacks. The US scientist added that the study of Pakistan’s nuclear installations is a routine one and that one of India and other nuclear weapons states will follow. ‘Short-range’ nuclear strikes are likelier to damage Pakistan than India, but will certainly interest New Delhi’s defence, diplomatic and military establishment, since they could be launched if Islamabad merely perceives the threat of an all-out invasion by the Indian military establishment. Consequently, Kristensen suggested that even quick ‘surgical strikes’ by India will have to make it ‘appear’ to Pakistan as though there is no danger of an all-out pan-national aggression of Pakistan by India.

DNA Evening Must Reads: Latest updates on demonetization issue, Nikki Haley meets Donald Trump, and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>AAP maybe unhappy with demonetization, but ‘aam aadmi’ isn’t: BJPA relentless opposition on Friday disrupted the proceedings of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for the second consecutive day demanding that they be allowed to move an adjournment motion on the demonetization issue. Follow live updates here.Demonetization: Congress and BJP members clash in Rajya Sabha over Ghulam Nabi Azad’s remarksCongress and BJP members on Friday clashed in Rajya Sabha over Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad’s remarks about demonetisation which he made on Thursday. Read more here.Demonetization: There are difficulties, long queues outside banks a ‘serious issue’: SC to govtThe Supreme Court on Friday dubbed as a “serious issue” the long queues outside banks and post offices and expressed its reservation on the Centre’s plea seeking a direction that no other court in the country should entertain petitions challenging the November 8 notification demonetising Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes. Read more here.Indian-American Nikki Haley meets Donald Trump amidst speculation about his Cabinet picksSouth Carolina’s Indian-American Governor Nikki Haley has met President-elect Donald Trump in New York and had “good” discussions about the new administration, amid reports that she was a top contender for either secretary of state or secretary of commerce in his Cabinet. Read more here. Amid row, China claims Indian badminton team manager himself cancelled visa applicationChina on Friday refuted allegations of denial of visa to the manager of the Indian badminton team, Bamang Tago on the ground that he is a resident of Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing claims as Southern Tibet, saying he himself cancelled his visa application. Read more here.Salman Khan’s rumoured girlfriend Iulia Vantur opens up on her experience in IndiaIulia talks about the time she spent in India and more. Read here.

Demonetisation has prepared India for war-like situation: If you are not bleeding, you are fake

Last week began on a reassuringly predictable note. We continued to be apoplectic over the killer smog that was choking the bejeesus out of the National Capital Region. We exchanged horrified notes on PM 2.5 levels that were skyrocketing away. We counted the metaphorical cigarettes we were supposed to be smoking just by breathing the foul air. “What was the government doing, dammit,” we fumed in unison, as we headed out to stock up on air purifiers and face masks.

While at it, most “look West” urban Indians got ready to follow the results of the US Presidential elections. Was it going to be Donald Trump, whose rhetoric of racism, misogyny and xenophobia was quite as toxic as Delhi’s air? Or, would it be the staid old Hillary Clinton who came with her monochrome pantsuits and her mystifying email scandal? We seemed as interested in the outcome of the contest as the average American.

People queue up to change their old currency notes outside Bank of India in New Delhi. PTI

People queue up to change their old currency notes outside Bank of India in New Delhi. PTI

Which, of course, was totally anti-national on our part.

So, anyway, there we were chinwagging about pollution (Delhi’s) and politics (America’s) on the evening of 8 November when Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a sharp rap on our collective knuckles and swung our attention back to stuff that matters.

Forcing English news channels to ditch their wall-to-wall coverage of the US elections, the PM informed the nation that in just four hours, old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 would be rendered worthless. This was being done to put a spanner in the works of black money hoarders, we were told. And, we would be able to exchange our old, defunct currency for new notes when the banks open a day later.

It was a masterstroke — a surgical strike on black money — we, the tax-deducted-at-source people, trilled. Then we went rummaging in our wallets to see how much legit currency we had with us.

The outrage over untrammelled pollution vanished. Fickle as we are, the talk shifted at once from PM 2.5 to just PM, the slayer of the corrupt. Trump won, but we barely noticed. Were there soldiers dying in cross-border firing? Perhaps. But there were more pressing concerns now. You needed to pay the plumber who just fixed a blocked drain. And you were down to your last Rs 370 that would pass muster. Plus, you had to arrange cash for an elderly parent who refuses to use a credit or a debit card.

In the week since banks and ATMs reopened, the jury has been out on whether the demonetisation move is a financial masterstroke or a hasty, ill-thought political gambit. Small businesses have been cruelly squeezed, the cash-only rural economy shot. At last count, 47 people have collapsed and died while standing in interminable queues before banks and ATMs in the hope of withdrawing some money or getting some exchanged.

But, hey, I’m not complaining. Let the financial whizzes figure out how this will benefit — or bedevil — the Indian economy. I have to report that BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao was onto something when he said on a television show on Sunday, “This has brought the nation together.”

Indeed, it has. You thought death was a great leveller? Well, demonetisation comes pretty close. Standing in a serpentine queue at a bank or an ATM to pick up a bit of your own hard earned money, you’ve probably bonded with more strangers than you ever have in your life. It’s heartwarming to stand (for hours) in solidarity with this sudden, nationwide crisis, trying to clear each other’s befuddlement over government notifications that change quicker than mountain weather.

You can exchange Rs 4,000 in old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 rupee notes. No, no, that’s been raised to Rs 4,500. Sure, but if you do that now, you’ll be inked! So you don’t come back and change money again — even if it is your own. And, wait, today’s bulletin is after 18 November, you can exchange only an amount of Rs 2,000 in those old notes.

Oh, and don’t forget, if you’re a farmer you can now withdraw Rs 25,000 per week against crop loan/Kisan Credit Card. And if you have a wedding in the family, the government, in its stunning munificence, will allow you to access Rs 2.5 lakh of your own money in cash.

Also, if that bright, new-minted Rs 2,000 note is running colour and you’ve been staring at it open-mouthed, pray close it forthwith. Economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das has averred, “It is supposed to bleed colour.” In fact, be very worried, if your brand new note is not bleeding like a stuck pig. It means it’s probably a fake.

Clearly, along with this hard lesson in making sacrifices for the good of the nation, we’re also learning to adapt quickly to this fast changing environment. Which is good news — because it means we aren’t endangered yet.

Besides, if the nation does go to war (as some nation lovers were vociferously advocating in the aftermath of the Uri attack), this experience of having to line up for rationed money would have been invaluable. After this, lining up for food rations during wartime would be a breeze.

Sceptics might be seeing red, but do consider the blessings of demonetisation. In the last one week, one has received the undivided attention of multiple sales people at a near-empty mall outlets. One has had the good fortune of being bumped up from a vanilla anti-national to a vile black money hoarder by Twitter trolls who will not brook the slightest criticism of the government. Last, but certainly not the least, one has finally discovered the joys of money laundering — the pure, unbounded joy of finding a scrunched but intact hundred rupee note in the pocket of a laundered shirt.

As the wise folks in the government keep telling us, there is no gain without a bit of pain.

The authro tweets @ShumaRaha

First Published On : Nov 17, 2016 16:01 IST

Let’s wake up India: Donald Trump will do exactly what he threatened to do

Now that the world has figured out they are not going to wake up from the nightmare and that Donald Trump is actually President-elect of the US let’s get a few of the more important ducks in a row.

US President-elect Donald Trump. APUS President-elect Donald Trump. AP

US President-elect Donald Trump. AP

Many of us(myself included) have been dishing out scenarios these past three days where the crass, coarse clown suddenly enters the office and is imbued with a choirboy halo, soaked in good sense and turning into an overnight statesman.

Which is all very fine but what stops him from doing exactly what he said he would do?

There is no doubt he will dismantle Obamacare and bring it to a screeching halt. That it might make him unpopular loses out to toppling the Obama legacy, something he will do with determination and a certain rage which perhaps began when he was made the butt of biting satire at the White House Press Corps dinner not once but on three different occasions.

He may well order the building of a wall between the US and Mexico and send the bill to President Enrique Peña Nieto and also begin proceedings against 11 million Mexican illegals whom he believes are the fundamental cause of drugs and crime in the country, this being integral to a $166 billion ‘America for Americans’ package.

By the same token, he can up the ante against the Daesh and generate a miasma of fear and distrust against the Muslim community. What makes us think he will grasp sanity and differentiate between terrorists and a whole global entity.

The fact that his official website uploaded the call for a ban on the community from entering the US after it had been taken off for the better part of a day is an ominous sign.

We can hope he will not do it but hope is a weak and fragile defence and one should be ready to face the fact that he won on a platform of polarisation and divisiveness and he is not likely to see any further into the future than keeping his ‘so called’ election promises.

Yes, Indians and other Asians will be paying the price of their call centres being padlocked and if he takes the sledgehammer of immigration and locks the doors despite the long-term price he might have to pay in terms of intellectual loss and isolation there is no guarantee he will not bring maximum jobs back to America any which way.

Failure to deliver on the job front is something he cannot afford and he will make that the most important arrow in his quiver.

Getting into a university for Asians will be more difficult. Indians can keep kidding themselves that they are exempt from new rules but don’t put your money on it.

The one major advantage Indians have is they are not dependent on the US…not in deals where they have offered military bases, not in the purchase of arms that make them hostage to repairs and spare parts, not even in allowing US corporations over-leverage on Indian soil. As the two largest democracies in the world the possibility of Stand Up India and Start Up India have huge merit but will Trump see that…cannot be sure.

Indeed, locking horns with China in business and trade terms is very much on the cards. Beijing will be his first target. With him and Vladimir Putin best buds, there is a huge vacuum in the cold war sector and China is best suited for being the proxy.

You watch as he links up with Putin to create that ‘safety zone’ in Syria to stop the flow of refugees. There might even be boots on the ground and a pro-Assad agreement to which he will give a nod.

With Moscow, the first test of a newly reworked US policy will be reflected in Trump lifting sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis. If he does that you can safely conclude the Big two are one.

He will definitely put the screws on the US companies that stash away $2.1 trillion to avoid taxes and tax those who manufacture through cheap labour abroad and sell their goods in America. Over 3,000 major companies are listed to be farming jobs abroad or getting work done in third world countries and saving on overheads.

Nafta is also on the ‘crushing’ list and cheap American grain moving to Mexico might just be the first commodity halted. We could also safely say that Nato may not retain its present shape for long and the Washington-Russian nexus would be sufficient military safeguard. If the other members don’t step up and cough up then the US won’t either.

The Trump administration will be inward looking and for a while, domestic policies will eclipse the role of global policeman. While that might be a relief since the expedient foundation of American foreign policy has ensured it has never been much of a success for nations who have unreservedly expected Washington to ride to their rescue when in peril may find themselves stranded and isolated.

Revenge is a dish that tastes best when served cold and Trump is likely dole out lashings of it.

There is also concern about his personal stands on social issues like the LGBT community, on abortion and racism including his now legendary status as a President whose ‘respect’ for women is suspect.

On all these issues he has dithered and swung more widely than a pendulum. He has been pro-choice (1999) anti-abortion (2016) anti-gay marriages (2011) then more conciliatory but still prejudiced (2016), pro-gun control (2000) and against further ‘check’ codicils (2015) so it is not easy to know what exactly he believes in at a specific moment.

Which is the scariest part of all? How do you make the meal if you don’t know which persona is coming to dinner?

First Published On : Nov 12, 2016 16:33 IST

DNA Morning Must Reads: Kejriwal alleges demonetization to be a huge scam; Indo-Japan nuclear deal operationalises 2005 US deal; & more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Live updates: Demonetization turning out to be a huge scam, will present evidence: KejriwalThe Centre has asked all states to ensure proper security to all banks, ATMs and vehicles transporting cash in the wake of demonitisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes. Read more.2. ‘H-1B visa ‘potential area of conflict’ between Indo-US under Donald Trump’Lisa Curtis, a top American think-tank said, “H-1B is a potential area of conflict between the two countries.” Read more.3. India-Japan nuclear deal operationalises 2005 US deal​his deal will also help in the operationalisation of the India-United States Civil Nuclear Agreement, which was signed way back in 2005. Read more.4. India v/s England: I was hoping to get double hundred: Cheteshwar PujaraDespite scoring 124 in front of his home crowd, Pujara says he wanted to bat longer to get team closer to England’s total. Read more.5. Working in Bollywood was not my strength: Twinkle KhannaTwinkle Khanna on why she has no intention of reviving her film career as she talks about her second book, The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad. Read more.

‘H-1B visa ‘potential area of conflict’ between Indo-US under Donald Trump’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Donald Trump’s administration would build on progress made in Indo-US ties and be less tolerant of Pakistan’s “dual policies” on terror, but the issue of H-1B visas could be a potential area of friction with New Delhi, a noted US expert on South Asian issues has said.”It seems likely that a Trump administration will build on the marked progress made in US-India relations over the last couple of years,” Lisa Curtis of the Heritage Foundation, a top American think-tank said.She said there is bipartisan recognition in the US that India plays an important role when it comes to achieving American objectives in the Asia Pacific, namely ensuring a rules-based international order and free and open seaways.”President-elect Trump made several positive comments about India on the campaign trail, which seems to reflect his support for bolstering the partnership,” said Curtis, who at The Heritage, focuses on US national security issues and regional geopolitics.Curtis said Trump’s tougher stance on terrorism, in general, will find favour among Indians, who are wary of attacks by Pakistan-based terrorist groups.”It is expected that a Trump administration will work more closely with India on combating terrorism in the region and will be less tolerant of Pakistan’s dual policies toward terrorism,” Curtis said.However, H-1B is a potential area of conflict between the two countries, she noted.”One area of potential friction could be over the H1-B visa issue. It is still unclear how Trump’s global business background will impact on his commitment to protect American workers,” she said.”He has both acknowledged the importance of allowing high tech companies to access global talent, while also pointing out potential flaws and misuse of the H1-B visa program. His administration may seek some changes to the H1-B visa requirements but is unlikely to do away with the program completely,” Curtis said.

US election 2016: Eight things common between Narendra Modi and Donald Trump

File images of Narendra Modi and Donald Trump. PTI and AP

File images of Narendra Modi and Donald Trump. PTI and AP

Narendra Modi is not India’s Donald Trump. Nor is Trump the American version of Modi. As their personalities go, both are the polar opposite of each other. While Modi whispers, Trump bugles across oceans. And unlike Modi who packs in subtle metaphors to make a point, Trump has no qualms about mouthing vulgar words (f**k and p***y). While Trump was an electoral greenhorn and a businessman, Modi had seen and won elections before and had been an ideologue, even though his ideology raises the hackles of many.

But there were many commonalities — I see at least eight — during the run-up to their respective campaigns for the office of the prime minister of India and the White House.

Both had a message

Unlike their rivals, both Narendra Modi in 2014 and Donald Trump in 2016 had a message to deliver and an agenda to unravel to the voters. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was so busy rebutting Trump that she forgot to offer a meaningful to-do list of her own for the Americans. Likewise, the leaders of the Congress and Modi’s other rivals spent most of their time painting him as a communalist who could only divide the nation. But undaunted, both Modi and Trump dished out what mattered to the voters: jobs for instance. They persuaded voters to give them a chance.

Both hated status quo

That’s what the voters adored about them. The Indian voters had no doubt that the Congress, if elected again, would offer them nothing more than the status quo as prevailed during UPA-1 and UPA-2 which, to them, largely meant scams. And Hillary looked to be no more than the continuation of the Barack Obama legacy which left large sections craving for more. Trump and Modi vowed to shake up the status quo, promising a change and a better tomorrow, which was what voters in both countries wanted.

Even their victory tweets stuck to this theme of change:

They spoke against corruption

During the 2014 poll campaign, one of Narendra Modi’s main chants was corruption, which he described as a termite that was eating away the Indian system. He said the BJP “is for a mission and the Congress is for a commission”. By repatriating black money stashed abroad, by simplifying tax regime and by expanding e-governance, Modi promised to reduce corruption. This seemed to make sense to many voters. Now they know they weren’t wrong.

As for Trump, he thundered at a rally: “Real change also means draining the swamp of corruption in Washington… If we want to make America great again, we must clean up this corruption.”

For the blue-collar white workers who think of the Washington-driven system as an epitome of corruption and wheeling-dealing, Trump seemed to be the man with a large broom to tidy up things.

Both are considered “outsiders”

A billionaire property tycoon who had never held an office, Trump is deemed to be an “outsider” to the system. So was Dwight Eisenhower who became the President in 1953. Washington Post writer EJ Dionne Jr said: “…Insiderism is unpopular this year. But, because of who Trump really is, his phoney outsider-ism is a far bigger threat to our country.”

Considering that Trump’s own financial reputation was not lily-white, many wonder whether he really is an “outsider” to the corruption that oils the American political machine. But the voters — at least half of them — thought he was. Better still for Trump, they thought he was an “anti-establishment rebel”.

Modi too is an outsider, at least to Lutyen’s Delhi. In an interview to Network18 Group Editor Rahul Joshi on 2 September, Modi said: “In Delhi’s power corridors, there’s an active group of people, which is dedicated to only a few. It could be because of their own reasons or personal gains…”

Dividers and disrupters

Modi was accused of having an agenda against minorities which his rivals said would divide India horribly. All that Modi spoke up against was the appeasement of minorities which, of course, was interpreted by rivals as the rattling of the communal sabre.

On the other hand, Trump openly spoke not only against Muslims but also included in his sweep of razor-sharp comments the immigrants, the LGBT community and even women in a way that stunned the US and the world. Trump also promised to be a disrupter when he raved against trade and other agreements starting with NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). Whatever the reason why each was called a disrupter and a divider, both Modi and Trump picked up votes.

Media didn’t get along with both

The media didn’t get along with both Trump and Modi in their respective countries. Forget the “liberals” who populate the American media, the press there has a lot against the President-elect: Xenophobia, misogyny, gropings, cuss words, tax evasion, financial wrongdoing in his real-estate business. But the Indian media hadn’t proven any allegations against Modi, at least as yet.

If Modi got away with the Indian media, it’s also partly because the hostility is more or less confined to some English newspapers and channels. And Trump got away with a bad press because voters apparently didn’t care much for it.

Branding of voters

All those who voted for Modi were branded as communal. Similarly, all those who plumped for Trump are being called racist. The American liberals, be they in media or politics, are making the mistake of not investigating the real reasons why Trump got votes.

In the case of Modi, India’s liberals never asked themselves why so many people voted for a man whom they had portrayed as the personification of evil.

The ticking of doomsday clock

Trump-baiters were quick to announce after his election that the doomsday clock was ticking, as did the anti-Modi lobbies. Well, Modi is halfway into his term, and India is still in one piece. Though the man himself maintains a sphinx-like silence, the Hindu voice, both of the sane and insane kinds, is louder now, but India is not doing badly. He has just scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

As for Trump, wait and watch.

Views are personal. The author tweets @sprasadindia

First Published On : Nov 11, 2016 21:06 IST

Donald Trump regime will be good for India, here are five reasons why

One of the strangest things about the 2016 US presidential election is how little we know about the winner: Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States.

To a certain extent, this is quite amusing given the excruciatingly lengthy nature of the campaign. As Emma Roller counted in The New York Times, “By Election Day, the campaign will have gone on for 597 days. In the span of which we’ve been paying attention to the same presidential campaign, we could have instead hosted approximately four Mexican elections, seven Canadian elections, 14 British elections, 14 Australian elections or 41 French elections.”

And yet despite numerous articles and several hours of TV debates over the last 19 months, tragically, all we have on Trump is a caricature as grotesque as his naked statues.

Narendra Modi and Donald TrumpNarendra Modi and Donald Trump

Narendra Modi and Donald Trump

We know that he boasts about grabbing female genitalia, walks in unannounced inside changing rooms of beauty pageants, doesn’t pay taxes, threatens immigrants and vows to ban Muslims. But apart from his scandals and moral failings what do we know about the man who will be the most powerful leader in the world? What do we know about his views on America’s foreign policy, trade relations, geostrategic and geopolitical affairs — stuff that may affect us and the world around us — beyond a few broad brush strokes?

This is chiefly because the media never took “Trump the candidate” seriously and dismissed him as a clown on the sidewalk. It remained trapped in a self-created illusion even though Trump was moving up the primaries, caucuses and knocking Republicans off (and fumbling his way through the debates). The media gave him no chance. Cocksure in belief and cocooned in utter disconnect from the people on the street, the media mistook the affluent coastal cities, a few Silicon Valley tycoons and Hollywood superstars for America.

So, now we are saddled with the task of deciphering how Trump presidency would impact the world and India based on the scrapings from his campaign. In the absence of the vetting that the media should have done before he was elected to the Oval Office, we must, post-facto, try to piece together a coherent picture.

I believe there are five broad areas to focus on when it comes to the Indo-US relationship under Donald Trump. These would be (in no specific order) geostrategic affairs, trade relations, immigration and visa policy, the personal equation between leaders of the two nations and bilateral relationship.

Geostrategic affairs: Early reactions indicate that Pakistan and China are nervous about resetting their relationship with the US. That would imply good news for India because America under the Democrats had been very convenient for both. While Pakistan has successfully exploited its geostrategic positioning to blackmail the US into providing a perpetual line of credit, China has sucked dry US manufacturing jobs and runs a huge trade surplus.

Not surprisingly, both nations have issued nervous statements, warning Washington that any change in the terms of engagements will end up harming US interests. While China is concerned about increased American isolationism, Pakistan’s nervousness stems from Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and his open admiration for India.

At this point, it is difficult to be sure just how much of Trump’s campaign rhetoric will spill over and affect his normative thinking but any resetting of the US-Pak relationship should be good news for India. As Pakistan’s foreign policy analyst Hasan Aksari Rizvi told Reuters, “America will not abandon Pakistan, but definitely, Trump will be a tougher President than Hillary Clinton for Pakistan… I think India will have a better and smoother interaction compared to Pakistan.”

We get a peek into Trump’s mind when he talked to CNN in Wisconsin about the cocktail of radical Islamist terrorism and nuclear weaponry that is brewing in Pakistan, or his assertion in an American radio show last September that Pakistan is the world’s most dangerous country and the US needs to work very closely with India to check it. Again, one isn’t sure how much of this he may successfully carry into the White House when he sits down with the Secretary of State and his policy wonks but this should give an indication to Islamabad that it may not be business as usual.

Hillary Clinton’s presidency would have ensured a measure of continuity of Barack Obama’s policies. For China, though, Trump presidency might be a mixed bag. While more duties and tariffs on imports may hit China hard at a time when its domestic economy is grappling with a slowdown and bursting of credit bubble still looms as a Damoclean sword, it would be heartened by Trump’s assertion that he intends to reduce America’s interventionism in global affairs. Translation: American submarines might not patrol the South China Sea any longer.

When that happens, sovereign nations affected by China’s aggressive geopolitical ambition might veer towards the other great Asian power: India.

It would be pertinent to remember that at this stage, all of this is little more than guesswork and Trump is marvellously unpredictable.

Trade relations: Trump faces an incongruity of policies because the angry, forgotten men and women who propelled him to Oval Office demand a greater share of the economic spoils that globalisation promised but failed to deliver. A tiny few seemed to have gotten richer in a globalised world at the expense of a vast number of the discontented, and the inequality of wealth has caused an angry populace to install a protectionist leader at the helm.

Trump vowed, just like Nigel Farage (the father of Brexit) did, that he would slap duties, taxes and tariffs but in a world which runs on interconnectivity, that would mean raising costs of the nuts and bolts of the engine that drives America.

As New York Times points out, “the American economy depends on access to a global supply chain that produces parts used by innumerable industries, along with a great range of consumer goods. Mexico and China are central actors. Disruption threatens to increase costs for American households. Tariffs on China might provoke a trade war that could slow economic growth, while most likely just shifting factory work to Vietnam and India.”

If America raises the cost of trade with China, India stands to benefit in more ways than one.

Immigration policy: This has been the biggest area of concern for Indians. Given the fact that we are witnessing a global backlash against softer borders and easier immigration policies, one may be inclined to think that Trump’s term might be bad for India’s IT industry. But the reality isn’t so simple. Trump has been contradictory, at certain times he has been praising the contribution made by skilled Indian workers and at other times needling US companies for hiring them in large numbers.

As a report in Times of India elucidates, Trump said in October last year that he was in favour of bringing skilled foreign workers into the US, as long as they come legally. He repeated it in March saying how Silicon Valley cannot be run without Indians and that very smart ones educated in the US should be allowed to remain there. “Many people want to stay in this country and then want to do that. I think somebody that goes through years of college in this country we shouldn’t kick them out the day they graduate, which we do,” he added, according to the newspaper. Yet he has also canvassed for increasing the H1B visa fees to pressurise US companies into hiring domestic workers.

Overall, one gets an impression that Trump regime may not go for any radical overhaul of the system that has been working well.

The personal equation between leaders: Trump has never hidden his admiration for Narendra Modi and has been effusive in his praise for Hindus and Indians — though it isn’t clear just how much he understands the fact that the terms are not synonymous. Speaking to NDTV during a fundraiser organised by Republican Hindu Coalition, Trump said: “I have great respect for Hindus. I have so many friends that are Hindu and they are amazing entrepreneurs. I have jobs going up in India right now. I have great respect for India. It’s an amazing country.” He also asserted that were he to be elected, “Indian and Hindu community will have a true friend in the White House”.

He even borrowed Modi’s 2014 slogan during the campaign, tweaking it to “Ab ki baar, Trump sarkar” during an Indian American outreach programme. He has praised Modi’s leadership, his effort to simplify the tax system through GST and on his part, Modi has carefully veered away from reacting to any of the controversies that dogged Trump during the election campaign. With a better personal equation between the two leaders, Indo-US relationship should remain on the path of a greater synergy.

Bilateral relationship: When it comes to government to government relationship, A Trump regime might be just what the doctor ordered for India, which is boxed in by an irritant in Pakistan and a formidable power in China. Indo-US areas of interest converge on a number of issues and Trump, for one, has not been hesitant in calling India America’s “natural ally”.

As news agency PTI had reported, during the Republican Hindu caucus Trump extolled India before a cheering crowd as “the world’s largest democracy and a natural ally of the US”. He said, “Under a Trump Administration, we are going to become even better friends, in fact, I would take the term better out and we would be best friends… We are for free trade. We will have good trade deals with other countries. We are going to do a lot of business with India. We are going to have a phenomenal future together.”

Indian wonks and political leaders should find it easier to deal with a businessman rather than a career politician like Clinton who carried a greater understanding of bilateral relations but also a huge baggage of past mutual suspicion. Trump, who still has large business interests in India, should be a refreshing change. On India’s areas of foremost concern such as cross-border terrorism, Trump has taken a firmer stand than Clinton would have ever taken. A Trump regime should be good for India.

First Published On : Nov 11, 2016 16:56 IST

Hindu Mahasabha leader feels US president-elect Trump might give up beef

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Supporter of Donald Trump, right-wing organisation Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, hopes the president-elect will “embrace” the Hindu culture and give up the consumption of beef.Just hours after Trump’s stunning win, Chandraprakash Kaushik, national president of the Hindu Mahasabha told CNN-News18 that he believes Trump will embrace the Hindu culture, now that he is in contact with it “and all vices in him shall be reformed”.Kaushik also believed Trump’s win was inevitable as the “entire Hindu community” backed him. Leaders of the Hindu Mahasabha had organised ‘havans’ to support the Republican nominee just before Americans headed to the ballots to cast their vote.
ALSO READ ‘I love Hindu’: Watch Donald Trump’s full speech at Hindu-American Rally Kaushik feels Trump is the man to battle terrorism. “I went to Ayodhya and prayed for his politician. Trump is the only global politician to come out so strongly against terrorism. You and I both know what he means by terrorism. Whoever is against them, we back them,” Kaushik is quoted as saying by the CNN-News18.On Trump’s stance on foreigners taking American jobs, Kaushik feels that is an “internal policy”.

US Consulate’s election bash ticks the right boxes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The US Consulate in Mumbai held a special live streaming of the election results at Worli’s Hard Rock Cafe on Wednesday morning. There were people dressed up as Uncle Sam, the Statue of Liberty and Rosie The Riveter—an American icon representing women who worked in shipyards and factories during World War II—at the event.As the US election results filtered in, there was as much anticipation and enthusiasm as in the US. People participated in a mock voting process, clicked pictures at selfie corners, got their sketches done, and posed with life-size cut-outs of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Though Clinton lost the election, she won by a considerable margin when the results of the mock voting were announced. Although she emerged as the clear favourite at the event, Trump managed to emerge victorious in the US. “I expected Hillary to win. Although Trump had the lead, it was neck and neck throughout,” said Saloni Vyas, a law student who attended the event. “For us, it was a learning experience. I have a module on international relations in college, and the election helped shape my political views,” said Bhushan Thakore, a student of civics and politics at the University of Mumbai.The guest list also featured staff from the consulate, and members from other consulates. “This is a great opportunity for us to meet people from other consulates,” said Juergen Isenberg, Airline Liaison Officer at the German Consulate.When the dust settles on the election, the important question to ask is how much of a bearing will it have on US-India relations. “No matter who occupies the Oval office, US-India relations will forge ahead in terms of trade and security. We share values and interests. I am convinced that there will be continued interest,” said Thomas Vajda, US Consul General in Mumbai.

Looking for greatness again

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The triumph of Trump has been the biggest surprise of the decade. As Trump took to the stage along with his family, he promised to deliver a stronger America. He has reiterated the corruption of the system in the United States and he hopes to clean that out with his administration. Many confess that they were scared to say out loud that they were Trump supporters. If they did, they would be targeted. An Indian-American attorney, Anand Ahuja, who was at the victory party as Trump gave his speech said, “I was scared to put a sticker on my car and leave it in the parking lot because my car would be vandalised.” Shalabh Kumar, an Indian-American businessman has worked hard for 18 months in the lead-up to the vote on November 8. He says that the relationship between India and the US is going to get stronger. Kumar also talked about how the US State department needs to be overhauled. He says the Democrats have created foreign policy that is not in the interest of the US people. The US needs better relations with India. “With Trump sarkar in the US and Modi sarkar in India, the relationship between the world’s leading democracies will usher in a new era of prosperity for all,” he said. But the biggest group of Trump supporters were the silent majority who make up 72 per cent of the voting public – white, rural voters. They were not loudly gathering in rallies and were often dismissed by pollsters, since they have traditionally decided not to go to the voting stations or engage with the election process. These voters are looking to Trump for change, a return to the old America. His slogan ‘Make America Great Again’ caught the imagination of this disenfranchised white group who has felt long left out and forgotten from politics. They will expect him to make good on his promise of a wall between Mexico and the United States. It is a potent symbol of America pulling up the drawbridge and protecting the homeland. The challenge will be for Trump to not just physically build an expansive wall, but also hold true to his assertion that he can get Mexico to pay for it. Before he builds the wall, his supporters are also looking to him to remove the 11 million illegal immigrants residing in the United States. These voters are the first generation to be financially worse off than their parents. They often perceive these illegal immigrants as people who come into their country to take their jobs, which they themselves could have had. Rounding up and returning these immigrants to their countries of origin will be a monumental task. But perhaps his greatest challenge will be making good on his acceptance speech promise. Uniting a divided country that has gone through a nasty and toxic election campaign and fighting for the rights of all Americans.

Appreciate your friendship towards India: PM Modi congratulates Donald Trump

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Wednesday, PM Modi reached out to president-elect Donald Trump after his historic victory. He wrote on Twitter: “Congratulations @realDonaldTrump on being elected as the 45th US President. We appreciate the friendship you have articulated towards India during your campaign, @realDonaldTrump.” Meanwhile the US Ambassador to India Rich Verma released a statement that said: “And it’s something, I’m sure, that can be appreciated by all of us here – from both the oldest democracy in the world, and the largest democracy in the world. The ties that bind our two countries together are built on our shared democratic values, and go beyond the friendship of the American President and the Indian Prime Minister. They go beyond the economic and people-to-people ties. The U.S.-India relationship is vitally important, it is bipartisan, and it is only growing stronger. Here’s to another four years of robust U.S.-India Dosti.” Earlier, US Consul General to Mumbai Tom Vadja said: “While the resident of the White House changes every four or eight year, our American values don’t change, those core values of democracy, pluralism, human rights, economic opportunities and the pursuit of a secure peaceful world. Indians too cherish the same values. That lies at the heart of the partnership. Indians and Americans are profoundly interconnected by bonds of family, business, and commercial ties, science, research and more than a 1,30,000 student exchanges that are ongoing at this time. US presidency under Donald Trump, a confessed big fan of India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is most likely to boost Indo-US strategic relationship with a special emphasis on defence ties and counter-terrorism cooperation.Trump, 70, had recently described India as “a key, and key strategic ally” and looks forward to deepening the diplomatic and military cooperation that is the shared interest of both countries. The billionaire businessman who has lauded economic policies of Modi had said he wants to work with him. At an event in New Jersey less than a month from now, Trump had promised to the Indian-American community in him India would find a true friend at the White House. “I am a big fan of Hindu and I am a big fan of India. If I am elected president, the Indian and Hindu community would have a true friend at the White House,” he had said at an event organised by the Hindu Republican Coalition. Trump said he appreciated “great friend India in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism.”India has experienced firsthand “brutality of terror” in the past “including the mayhem in Mumbai,” he said and described the 2008 Mumbai terror attack and that on Indian Parliament in 2001 as “absolutely outrageous” and terrible. “We will defeat radical Islamic terrorism. We will stand soldier-to-soldier in this fight. This is so important in the age of ISIS,” he said. “India’s is the world’s largest democracy and is a natural ally of the US. Under a Trump Administration, we are going to become even better friends. In fact, I will take the word even out because we are going to be best friends. I look forward to working with Prime Minister Modi, who has been very energetic in reforming the economy and bureaucracy. Great man. I applaud him,” he said.”I look forward to doing some serious bureaucratic trimming right here in the US, believe me we need it most,” Trump said. “Your great Prime Minister has been a pro-growth leader for India. He has simplified the tax code, cut the taxes and the economy is strong growing at 7 per cent year. Excellent,” he said. On the eve of the November 8 general elections, a key military advisor to the Trump said that India will have an important role to play in the Trump Administration s Asia Pacific policy of “peace through strength.””This is a country that shares our values, this is a country that shares a lot of geo-political interest and I think, his (Trump s) work is going to be continuing the tradition of Bush Administration which made a lot of progress in that regard,” Alexander Gray, a military advisor and author of several of the ambitious defence policies of Trump, said. “We (a Trump Administration) would be looking to strengthen not just the cultural and economic aspect, but also on the defence side there is so much common ground with India. At a time when India s foreign policy is changing because of China and Pakistan, because of Islamic terrorism, we need to be there to greet them with open arms. I think, the Trump Administration is ready to do that,” Gray said.

US warns its citizens in India of a possible terror attack by Islamic State

New Delhi: The United States on Tuesday asked its citizens in India to keep high level of vigilance citing reports indicating that terror outfit Islamic State desires to attack “targets” in India.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

An advisory issued by the American Embassy in New Delhi warned its citizens of an increased threat in places frequented by Westerners in the country.

“Recent Indian media reports indicate ISIL’s desire to attack targets in India. The US Embassy warns of an increased threat to places in India frequented by Westerners, such as religious sites, markets, and festival venues.”

“All US citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness as detailed in the State Department’s Worldwide Caution of September 9, 2016,” the advisory said.

An earlier advisory, under ‘Worldwide Caution’ section on the US state department’s travel website, says that India continues to experience terrorist and insurgent activities which may affect US citizens directly or indirectly.

“Anti-Western terrorist groups active in India include Islamist extremist groups such as Harkat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Indian Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Lashkar-e Tayyiba.”

“Past attacks have targeted public places, including some frequented by Westerners, such as luxury and other hotels, trains, train stations, markets, cinemas, mosques, and restaurants in large urban areas,” the worldwide advisory, last updated in September, says.

US embassy warns Americans of IS attack

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The US Embassy in New Delhi has issued a travel advisory to American citizens warning of increased threats of attacks by terrorist organisation the Islamic State (ISIS) against foreign travellers. The advisory issued on Tuesday has warned Americans to be vigilant while travelling to religious sites, markets and festival venues.Although there is no presence of IS group within India, security agencies have detained more than 50 suspects in connection of setting IS inspired terror modules in the country. The US advisory has come close on the heels of reports that suspects were planning to attack foreign nationals on behalf of IS in order to gain recognition and world wide attention for their acts. In at least two such cases involving suspects arrested in Kolkata and Kerala recently, police officials said they were looking for foreign nationals as a target. The suspects were told to decapitate the foreigners, film the act and send the video to their handlers (leaders) which would be later claimed by IS.The IS module in neighbouring Bangladesh picked on foreign nationals as its target who were shot at or hacked by machetes.

U.S. issues travel advisory for India amid fears of Islamic State attacks | Reuters

U.S. issues travel advisory for India amid fears of Islamic State attacks | Reuters

Updated: Nov 1, 2016 23:09 IST


NEW DELHI The U.S. embassy in New Delhi issued a security message to American citizens in India on Tuesday to be vigilant following reports that Islamic State may be planning to attack targets there.”Recent Indian media reports indicate ISIL’s desire to attack targets in India,” the advisory said, warning of an increased threat to places frequented by Westerners such as religious sites, markets and festival venues.ISIL is an acronym for the jihadist organisation, which has seized territory in Iraq and Syria.

“All U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness,” the advisory said.

Officials from the National Investigation Agency, India’s counter-terrorism unit, has been quoted as saying that an Indian man arrested last month in Tamil Nadu and charged with terrorism offences had been an active member of Islamic State in Iraq.

(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Gareth Jones)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

US issues advisory, warns citizens of heightened ISIS threat in India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The United States on Tuesday asked its citizens in India to keep high level of vigilance citing reports indicating that terror outfit Islamic State desires to attack “targets” in India.An advisory issued by the American Embassy here warned its citizens of an increased threat in places frequented by Westerners in the country. “Recent Indian media reports indicate ISIL’s desire to attack targets in India. The US Embassy warns of an increased threat to places in India frequented by Westerners, such as religious sites, markets, and festival venues.”All US citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness as detailed in the State Department’s Worldwide Caution of September 9, 2016,” the advisory said.US State department in its advisory had stated, “India continues to experience terrorist and insurgent activities which may affect U.S. citizens directly or indirectly. Anti-Western terrorist groups active in India include Islamist extremist groups such as Harkat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Indian Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Lashkar-e Tayyiba. Past attacks have targeted public places, including some frequented by Westerners, such as luxury and other hotels, trains, train stations, markets, cinemas, mosques, and restaurants in large urban areas”. With agency inputs

Poll: Most Republicans believe Russia is meddling in U.S. election | Reuters

Poll: Most Republicans believe Russia is meddling in U.S. election | Reuters

Updated: Oct 28, 2016 20:36 IST


By Alana Wise

WASHINGTON Most Republicans believe Russia is attempting to influence the U.S. presidential election, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, despite comments by the party’s nominee, Donald Trump, downplaying the possibility.Some 55 percent of U.S. adults, including 51 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of Democrats, said they thought Russia was trying to tip the scales in the Nov. 8 presidential election, according to the survey. Most American adults – 62 percent of Democrats and 48 percent of Republicans – think Putin is supporting Trump for the White House, the poll found.Some 71 percent of those who suspect Russia of meddling believe Moscow is doing so through the recent hacks of Democratic emails, according to the Oct. 18-24 survey. But 57 percent of those who suspect Russian interference also believe Trump has “no involvement in Russia’s release of unflattering information” on his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.The U.S. government has accused Russia of a campaign of cyber attacks targeting the Democratic Party that has led to the release of thousands of illegally obtained emails, revealing the sometimes unflattering inner workings of the party, Clinton’s campaign, and her family’s charitable foundation.

Clinton has said she believes the Kremlin is trying to help Trump, calling her rival a “puppet” of the Russian leader. Trump has declined to implicate the country in any wrongdoing.”I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the (Democratic National Committee),” Trump said during the first presidential debate last month. He suggested the culprit could be anyone from Russia, to China or even “a 400-pound person lying in bed.”Russia has denied it sponsors or encourages hacking activity. Russian President Vladimir Putin accused U.S. politicians on Thursday of whipping up “hysteria” about a nonexistent threat in order to distract voters.

Putin, who has described Trump as “very talented,” said on Thursday the New York businessman “behaves extravagantly” to “get through to voters’ hearts.” Trump has said he is not close with Putin, but has also said he believes the Russian president is a stronger leader than U.S. President Barack Obama.

Already chilly relations between the United States and Russia have deteriorated over disagreements over the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. U.S. officials say U.S. agencies have concluded that two Russian intelligence agencies – the military’s GRU and the civilian foreign intelligence agency, the FSB – are behind U.S. political hacking, particularly that directed against Democratic Party organizations and individuals.The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English, and included 2,008 American adults. It had a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 3 percentage points. (Additional reporting by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Peter Cooney)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Month after surgical strikes: Appraisal of India’s new strategy of dealing with Pakistan

Exactly a month ago, Indian special forces crossed the Line of Control (LoC) to prevent imminent infiltration of Pakistan-sponsored terrorists into Indian territory. While this was certainly not the first time such an action was undertaken, the government’s decision to publicise this attack and, therefore, signal to Pakistan that it no longer buys the logic of inexorable escalation that was supposed to follow any Indian breach of the LoC – however limited – certainly establishes New Delhi’s intention to forge a new course in its dealings with Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

This is as good as any occasion gets to record what the strikes have established – and what they haven’t.

The Prime Minister is unpredictable – and that strengthens India’s hand

Consider this. Following the Uri attack on 18 September, the BJP’s core constituency was all but baying for blood. So when it was the Prime Minister’s turn to speak at the Kozhikode conclave on 23 September, it was natural for many to expect him to hint at a military response to come.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

This was not the case. Instead Modi spoke of a thousand-year war against poverty that both countries were urged to fight and win, and made a direct appeal to the people of Pakistan, reminding them of the common thread of history that united the two countries. It looked to all but a few sanguine PM-watchers that the military option was closed – and Delhi was back to the ‘more-of-same’ policy.

Wrong. It is now clear that soon after the Uri attack, the government had decided on a military response, albeit on a limited scale, and with precise counter-terrorism objectives in mind. By highlighting the common challenges both the countries faced – and by invoking the bonds between them – Modi softened the blow to come, and cleverly delinked the people of Pakistan from the military regime there. By keeping both his domestic base as well as Rawalpindi guessing, Modi has lived up to the maxim that, in strategy, surprise is paramount.

Pakistan, beyond bluster, is a traditional power which knows when to back off

An article of faith, evangelised mostly by Washington DC scholars and think-tankers, has been that any Indian military response to Pakistan-sponsored terrorism would be ineffective and/or escalatory – do too little and it wouldn’t matter; do too much, and a general war will follow under a nuclear overhang. India didn’t seem to have good force-based deterrence or compellence options in front of it, these mandarins suggested. (It is deliciously coincidental that two of the most prominent American voices who have argued along these lines were actually in Delhi a couple of days before the 28 September strikes making these very arguments.)

At the heart of this perceived lack of options is another deep-rooted perception of Pakistan as a non-unitary, irrational actor where no single entity possessed a monopoly on the use of force, and where the state fails to coldly calculate the costs versus benefits of escalation. To a large extent, Pakistani players have cultivated this image for themselves. Henry Kissinger once said (ironically enough, during a visit to Peshawar in the early 1960s): “A madman who is holding a hand grenade in his hand has a very great bargaining advantage.” Pakistan became the quintessential madman in the eyes of many American – and Indian – decision makers and analysts.

By denying that the surgical strikes even took place, Pakistan chose to de-escalate. By choosing to de-escalate, Rawalpindi, beyond the facade of an ideologically-driven revisionist power, demonstrated that it is quite attuned to rational cost-benefit calculations behind retaliation. The madman is quite adept at poker, it seems.

So much for escalation, but was the strike effective? While a single cross-LoC action with very limited objectives is unlikely to change Pakistan’s behaviour completely, Cyril Almeida’s Dawn column – and the attendant kerfuffle in Rawalpindi – does attest to the fact that it did, in conjunction with Pakistan’s growing isolation in the international stage, nudge the Sharif government in the direction of a rethink vis-a-vis Pakistan’s addition to the employment of proxies. The strikes were a first step in, what analyst
Manoj Joshi called, India’s emerging strategy of compellence.

Strategic restraint is dead. Long live strategic restraint!

Senior BJP leader Ram Madhav, hours after the Uri attack, warned Pakistan that the era of “strategic restraint is over.” But do the surgical strikes really mean that it is so?

Yes and no. Yes, to the extent that ‘strategic restraint’ was nothing but a sophisticated-sounding euphemism for India’s default “do-nothing” option of the past, perhaps motivated by self-deterrence in face of certain escalation terminating in nuclear war. In other words, if ‘strategic restraint’ is a matter of necessity and not choice – a restraint forced on India rather than adopted by India – then the strikes indeed mark the end of an era.

No, to the extent that restraint, as a strategy, often compliments resolve. Together, resolve – when it comes to necessary application of force – and restraint – which directs limited force towards clear-cut achievement of political objectives – are both needed for successful deterrence, a point brilliantly made by the Nobel-winning game theorist Roger Myerson. In fact, restraining resolve often enhances deterrence, as Myerson showed. The 28 September strikes demonstrated both. It was restrained both in the choice of forces employed (land-based, and not air-power based), scope (shallow penetration of territory India claims to be its own) as well its diplomatic billing (counter-terrorism operation aimed at neutralising imminent infiltration rather than taking the fight to the Pakistani conventional army).

28 September, 2016 – in other words – would mark as a day when India adopted restraint as a strategy to compliment strategic resolve. The effective marriage of the two would determine the contours of India’s Pakistan strategy in the years to come.

The author is a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi and a national security columnist for Firstpost. Views expressed here are personal. He tweets @AbhijnanRej.

RAW, NDS patronising terror groups to attack Pakistan: Nasser Khan Janjua to US

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan on Wednesday claimed the spy agencies of India and Afghanistan were “patronising” terror groups to attack soft targets in the country and sought America’s help to break their “nexus”, a day after 61 young cadets were massacred in a major terror attack in Quetta.Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Lt Gen (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua conveyed the message to US ambassador David Hale during a meeting here today, Radio Pakistan reported.Janjua told Hale that India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) are “patronising terrorists groups to attack soft targets in Pakistan”, it said. The meeting was held to discuss the terrorist attack on Police Training College Quetta, counter-terrorism operations and cross-border attacks.Janjua emphasised on the need to break the “nexus between Afghanistan-based terrorists, who are operating under the patronage of Afghan intelligence agency NDS and Indian intelligence agency RAW.”Pakistan has asked for US assistance to tackle the situation, the report said.Janjua informed the ambassador that the terrorists who attacked the police training college were constantly in contact with their leadership and handlers in Afghanistan. The American ambassador was also briefed by the NSA on Pakistan s efforts to improve the current security situation in the country through implementation of the National Action Plan. Hale condemned the attack in Quetta and offered his regrets. He also offered American support for the same.Three heavily-armed militants wearing suicide vests stormed a police academy in Quetta, killing at least 61 people and wounding at least 117, in the deadliest attack on a security installation in the country’s history. The gunmen burst into the sprawling academy, targeting sleeping quarters home to some 700 recruits, and sent terrified young men aged between 15 and 25 fleeing.Communication intercepts showed the attack was carried out by Al-Alimi faction of the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) militant group, IG Frontier Corps (FC) Major General Sher Afgan said. Separately, the militant Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the group’s Amaq news agency. The training centre houses at least 600 cadets. Most of the deaths were caused when two of the attackers blew themselves up. The third was shot dead by FC troops.

Bombay HC allows US couple to make representation to Govt on embryos

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bombay High Court on Wednesday allowed a US couple to make a representation to the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) and Department of Family Welfare of the Centre to allow them to take back to their country eight embryos kept by them in a hospital following a recent ban by India on commercial surrogacy.A division bench headed by Justice Shantunu Kemkar allowed the couple to make a representation to the respondents and asked the Centre to decide on it within three weeks. The bench gave liberty to the respondents to file an affidavit in case they decided to reject the representation. The lawyer of the US couple Ashutosh Kumbhkoni made a request on their behalf to the bench urging that they may be allowed to submit a representation to the DGFT and the concerned Ministry through the lawyer of the respondents.Since Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh is appearing on behalf of the Centre, the representation to the government would be forwarded through him. Kumbhkoni also informed that the embryos had to be kept at a low temperature in cold storage at their (US couple’s) own cost every day and thus they had to incur expenditure on this. Almost a week ago, the same bench had directed the US couple to make DGFT and Ministry of Family Welfare as party respondents to their petition.The Judges were of the view that import and export regulations are governed by DGFT and it should be made a party. Moreover, the petition concerned embryos and hence Family Welfare department should be heard in this matter. Kumbhkoni had argued that the government should not adopt an adversarial approach and must find out a solution to the problem.”These are our embryos and what will the government do with them. We had brought them to India in accordance with the laws of this country and after seeking permission of the authorities. Now that surrogacy is banned in India, we want to take them back,” the couple’s lawyer had argued.Earlier, hearing a petition filed by the American couple, the court had served notices to the respondents and asked them to spell out the government policy on the issue.During the hearing of petition last month, the bench had asked the couple how they could file this petition because the Constitution gave such right only to Indian citizens. However, Kumbhkoni argued that Article 21 of the Constitution gave such a right to every person, even to foreign nationals.”This is because right to life includes right to have a baby and hence the couple has a right to file such petition in the high court,” the lawyer had argued.The petition said the couple tried to have a baby for many years but failed. The doctors had advised them surrogacy. Accordingly, the American doctors, with the help of the couple’s sperms and eggs, created the embryos and advised them to get a surrogate mother. The couple sent the embryos to India by a special courier (in a frozen state). All the embryos are currently lying in a hospital at Powai in Mumbai. The couple had also obtained surrogacy visa and came to India by following the procedure.In April 2015, the Indian Council for Medial Research had given no objection certificate to the couple to import their frozen embryos from USA. Accordingly, they were sent to India.Meanwhile, in November 2015, the Centre announced a change in policy and banned surrogacy for foreign couples. The couple then asked the hospital authorities to return their embryos but they refused to part with the embryos saying that import and export of embryos was banned in India as per the new policy rules. Thereafter, the couple approached the Indian government which also refused to allow them take back the embryos saying that while banning surrogacy it had also banned import and export of foetus also.The couple argued that taking back their embryos did not amount to exporting them and the authorities should not interpret or make policy decisions that were against the basic tenets of fairness, law and human rights. Their lawyer had submitted that technically taking back the embryos was not an export because they were seeking to restore them back to the place from where they had originated.

DNA Morning Must Reads:Tatas boardroom tussle spills over to courtrooms; Mulayam back as SP face; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Mistry, Tatas lawyer up; boardroom tussle spills over to courtroomsThe high-voltage boardroom tussle at Bombay House that saw the ouster of chairman Cyrus Mistry on Monday is now spilling over to the courtrooms. Read more.2. Yadav vs Yadav: Mulayam back as Samajwadi party face; fires another salvo at AkhileshSP supremo says the party will project itself, and not any individual as its face for upcoming elections. Read more.3. DNA impact | Sikh riots case: Untraceable witness traced, says CBIHowever, according to the CBI, Narinder Singh Khaira had declined to join the investigation. Read more.4. Paul Beatty becomes first American to win Booker PrizeThe caustic wit and humour in “The Sellout”set against the backdrop of US politics earned Paul Beatty high praise from the judges. Read more.5. Has Dhoni found his sweet spot?Following his success in third ODI, batting at No.4 might be the key to revival of Indian ODI captain’s fortunes as a batsman. Read more.

U.S. judge approves $14.7 billion settlement over VW diesel vehicles | Reuters

U.S. judge approves $14.7 billion settlement over VW diesel vehicles | Reuters

Updated: Oct 25, 2016 21:05 IST


By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON A U.S. federal judge on Tuesday approved Volkswagen AG’s (VOWG_p.DE) record-setting $14.7 billion settlement with regulators and owners of 475,000 polluting diesel vehicles, and the German automaker said it would begin buying back the vehicles in mid-November.The action by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco marked the latest development in a scandal that has rocked VW since it admitted in September 2015 using secret software in its diesel cars to cheat exhaust emissions tests and make them appear cleaner than they really were.Under the settlement first announced in June, Volkswagen agreed to spend up to $10.033 billion on the buybacks and owner compensation and $4.7 billion on programs to offset excess emissions and boost zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and other clean vehicle projects.The affected vehicles emit up to 40 times legally allowable pollution levels. Volkswagen may also be allowed to repair vehicles if regulators approve fixes.It represented the largest civil settlement worldwide ever reached with an automaker over allegations of misconduct and fraud toward vehicle owners.

In total, Volkswagen has agreed to date to spend up to $16.5 billion in connection with the diesel emissions scandal, including payments to dealers, states and attorneys for owners. The scandal rattled VW’s global business, harmed its reputation and prompted the ouster of its CEO.The world’s second-largest automaker still faces billions more in costs to address 85,000 polluting 3.0 liter vehicles and U.S. Justice Department fines for violating clean air laws. It also faces lawsuits from at least 16 U.S. states for additional claims that could hike the company’s overall costs.Breyer turned away objections from owners who thought the settlement did not provide enough money, saying the agreement “adequately and fairly compensates” owners. In addition to the pre-scandal “trade in” value of the vehicle, owners will also receive $5,100 to $10,000 in additional compensation. “Given the risks of prolonged litigation, the immediate settlement of this matter is far preferable,” Breyer wrote.

Volkswagen agreed to make up to $1.21 billion in payments to 652 U.S. VW brand dealers and $600 million to 44 U.S. states to address some state claims.To date, nearly 340,000 owners have registered to take part in the settlement, and only about 3,500 owners have opted out. Volkswagen must fix or buy back 85 percent of the 475,000 vehicles under the agreement within two years or face additional costs.

Under the Justice Department agreement, VW will provide $2 billion over 10 years to fund programs to promote construction of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, development of zero-emission ride-sharing fleets and other efforts to boost sales of cars that do not burn petroleum.VW also agreed to put up $2.7 billion over three years to enable government agencies and agencies on Native American tribal lands to replace old buses or to fund infrastructure to reduce diesel emissions and award states about $600 million.Volkswagen spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan said the automaker expects to begin buying back vehicles in mid-November. The automaker has hired 900 people, including one to be stationed at each dealership, to handle buybacks. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Will Dunham)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Embraer deal: CBI probe to continue; new blacklisting policy soon, says Defence Minister

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer cannot escape Indian laws just because it has struck a settlement with American authorities over corruption in sale of planes to India and three other countries, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said today.He said a new blacklisting policy will be finalised next month. “The CBI investigation into the USD 208 million deal will go by Indian laws on corruption, kickbacks, whatever it is, subject to evidence,” he told reporters.The minister stated that the American laws were different from Indian laws. “In American law, criminal processes can be compounded (settlement through payment of fines). However, in India, criminal law is not compounded unless the acts are of very minor nature,” he said.On being asked whether the three planes supplied by Embraer to the IAF for Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&CS) will be grounded, the Defence Minister said there was no question of grounding the planes.”I can assure you that national requirement is a priority. In fact, I am coming out with a proposal or guidelines for blacklisting. The next Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) will finalise it,” he said. “It cannot be a knee jerk reaction. Proper decision making is required,” he added. The move comes months after the Defence Ministry laid down norms for engaging agents in defence deals. Sources said the new norms will be a mixture of heavy fines, graded blacklisting and other penalties.The Brazilian aircraft manufacturer has come under the scanner of the US Justice Department after the former admitted to having paid kickbacks for a range of defence deals with many countries. Embraer has agreed to pay over USD 205 million to resolve charges of corruption and making bribe payments to officials in foreign nations, including USD 5.76 million allegedly being paid to an agent in India, in connection with the sale of three military aircraft for Indian Air Force.Under the settlement, apart from the USD 107 million penalty to the US Justice Department as part of a deferred prosecution agreement, Embraer must also pay more than USD 98 million in disgorgement and interest to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). According to the company’s admissions, Embraer executives and employees paid bribes to government officials and falsified books and records in connection with aircraft sales to foreign governments and state-owned entities in multiple countries.Parrikar said the Embraer deal was being discussed and efforts were being taken to fine-tune it. “The basic concept is that a criminal activity should be punished with a ban. But to what extent the ban should be, will be decided as per the national security. Giving exemption will also be based on national security,” he said.”If I have a platform where a company has been banned, I cannot stop operating the platform, because the company which is now blacklisted had supplied me the platform. Whose loss is it?,” he asked.The Embraer deal was signed in 2008 between Embraer and the DRDO for three aircraft equipped with indigenous radars for AEW&C (airborne early warning and control systems).

Subramanian Swamy in favour of banning Pakistani artists

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid Indo-Pak tension, senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has backed the call for a ban on Pakistani artists from working in India, saying the consciousness of the Indian people cannot be diluted by allowing them to perform in the country. “Today we are in a situation where we have to prepare the country’s mind that it may be a possibility in future that we may have to go to war. We have been at war with Pakistan four times already, it is not an unusual event,” Swamy said at a conference titled ‘India and Pakistan: A Subcontinental Affair’ organised by the students of New York University here. “To prepare the mind of the people, we cannot allow these dilutions of cinema artists and cricket players coming to our country and playing. We cannot allow that. The day normalcy comes in Pakistan, we will be the first to resume cricket and cinema,” he said at the conference yesterday. Swamy said while war is no solution, the Narendra Modi government will not tolerate terrorism and “if it comes we will retaliate by means that are available to us”. “The mood of the country that I see over the years is only getting hardened and it reflects itself in places where many people would think we shouldn’t be really stepping in, for example on (Pak) artists not coming (in india). But that is the mood in the country that they dont want any dilution of our attitude to Pakistan at this present moment. It is a gloomy picture for negotiated settlement and dialogue. We will not allow dilution of this consciousness because if you have to prepare for something, then you cannot allow dilution of consciousness so all this naach gaana business will go as a consequence of it,” he said. Swamy added that no one should normally object to culture and arts in a political warfare but given the current situation between India and Pakistan, where “we are not in a war-like situation but (there is) a possibility of war by miscalculation. Therefore we have to be prepared.” Swamy was heckled by a student at the conference when he made the remark that after the Mosul attack by American support forces, many ISIS members were now thinking of taking sanctuary in Pakistan. Swamy asserted that the “one mistake” India has made in Kashmir, apart going to the UN on the issue, is “not to make it absolutely clear that no discussion will ever take place with Pakistan on the status of Kashmir. The only discussion that will take place is how to end terrorism”. Swamy said unless the political authority begins to assert itself in Pakistan to discipline its army, to discipline its ISI and put an end to all the terrorists living freely in Pakistan, “I think it will be impossible for any government of India to have a dialogue on wide ranging items”.”Political normalcy between India and Pakistan is something which we in India think is fruitless and therefore should not be engaged in,” he said.

Keep out: ‘Locals’ not welcome in this elite Diwali party for expats in Mumbai

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Here’s a Diwali party that isn’t too keen about spreading the joy this festive season. The invites to a Diwali party hosted by the Elite Expats Club, which is part of the Mumbai Expats Club, reportedly stated that “locals” would not be allowed.According to a Quartz report, the email invite for the October 27 party read: “Kindly note that this event is strictly for expats and Indian delegates. It would be highly appreciated if locals are not escorted unless they hold a govt political portfolio or are diplomats.”While Italian consul general in Mumbai Ugo Ciarlatani was supposed to be the chief guest at the event, he later withdrew his participation. The Italian embassy told Quartz that they had received a different invite which said both expats and those of Indian nationality would be invited.Other dignitaries invited included Jennifer Larson, the deputy principal officer at the American consulate, who was listed to be the guest of honour at the event.Meanwhile, Savio D’sa, the Indian founder of the club, has sought to downplay the discriminatory approach, citing security issues. “We do not have locals joining the Elite Expat Club event purely to ensure the security protocol, considering the profile of people being invited. We have a separate event for the Mumbai Expat club where locals will be allowed,” he told Quartz.

Call centre scam: People info sites were used to trap victims

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Scamsters in the recently busted multi-crore call centre racket were using well-known people search websites, which provide a person’s name and addresses, to gauge a potential victim’s ability to pay as part of their illegal operations, police have revealed. An internet-based call were made to many phone numbers simultaneously, called ‘blasting’ in technical terms, and the potential victims were made to listen to it which allegedly used to threaten them, they said. “Some of the victims got frightened with this and called back. When the call was returned, the call centre executives, through the phone number of the caller, surfed through the websites (having information about people’s name, addresses and other details) in real time to understand the paying ability of the person at the other end,” a police official said. Those having a higher ability to pay were prioritised over others and the (call centre) agents engaged with them in deeper conversations which led to negotiating a sum the victim had to pay, the official said. “During investigation it was revealed that the scam’s alleged mastermind, Sagar Thakkar alias Shaggy, and his associates used to blast the VOIP calls from Ahmedabad,” the official said. These calls were made with Direct Inward Dialling (DID) by which at a time 10 US citizens could get calls with the help of a software, he said. The call was spoofed and contact numbers similar to those in United State’s were displayed on the cell phones, by which the American citizens were made to believe that it was a call from the US Tax Department. The frightened US nationals would reply on the numbers to prevent their arrest and were then engaged in negotiation. The ‘dialler’ used to asked the victim if he wanted to resolve the issue. If he agreed, then the call was transferred to his senior – the ‘closer’. Later, the ‘closer’ used to finally negotiate with the citizen and insist him/her to keep mobile phone on speaker mode and go at the nearest reputed supermarket chain.

Talks of Russia ditching India for China is a case of over-exaggeration

A veteran journalist says that is “mad” at Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s failure in incorporating the name of Pakistan in the joint declaration of the just concluded Brics summit in Goa. Under normal circumstances one would not have taken the comment of this journalist (who also happens to be a habitual Modi-baiter) seriously, but one can’t ignore the fact that the inability of the Brics leaders in naming Pakistan as a source of global terror in the “Goa declaration” is being perceived by many in India as not only a failure of Modi’s foreign policy but also as a strong signal of Russia moving away from India, and towards China.

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinse President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin in a file photo. PTIIndia Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinse President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin in a file photo. PTI

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinse President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin in a file photo. PTI

But then perceptions are not necessarily true. As a student of international relations, I have rarely come across joint declarations of a multilateral summit mentioning any non-participating country specifically unless that country (in this case Pakistan) is at war or under some grave natural calamity. Therefore, in my considered view the perception that Russia is moving closer to China deserves more attention. It is a fact that Russia-China relations, particularly in the security sphere, have been in an upswing over the last few years. The two have been conducting many “provocative” joint military drills, including those in the disputed South China Sea. Russian arms sales to China have increased phenomenally.

However, this does not mean that Russia is contemplating to ignore India for the sake of China. On the other hand, Russia has been systematically trying to promote what is called a strategic triangle of Russia, India and China.

Though former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov was the first Russian leader to use the words “trilateral cooperation” among Russia, India and China, the concept has been spearheaded by President Vladimir Putin. The pattern was set during his first term as president when Putin held summit meetings with Indian and Chinese heads of government, in short intervals. The idea of Russia-India-China initiative was talked about on the eve of eve of Putin’s visit to India in October 2000. It followed Russia-China summit (between Putin and Chinese President Jiang Zemin) in July that year at Moscow. In 2002, the idea was again talked about during Putin’s visit to Delhi, which took place immediately after his trip to Beijing; in fact Putin had combined his China and India visits together and landed in Delhi straight from Beijing.

It was at Putin’s behest that the first trilateral summit involving the three countries took place in St Petersburg in July 2006. It was argued that Beijing and New Delhi accepted Russia’s proposal to hold trilateral summit because “it was beneficial to boosting the cooperation among the three countries as well as maintaining multipolarity in the world”. Of course, it is to be remembered that the St Petersburg meeting took place on the sidelines of the G-8 summit, which Russia had hosted for the first time and former India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese president Hu Jintao had attended it as special invitees.

However, since then “Russia, India and China process” (RIC process) — that is how India “officially” describes the development — has also involved regular meetings of foreign ministers of the three countries, the last of which, incidentally the 14th in the series, was held in Moscow on April 18, 2016. The Moscow meet resolved that “Russia, India and China (RIC), as countries with important influence at international and regional levels and emerging market economies, need to further strengthen practical coordination on global and regional issues in the spirit of openness, solidarity, mutual understanding and trust. They (the foreign ministers) emphasised that cooperation between their countries is conducive to maintaining international and regional peace and stability, and promoting global economic growth and prosperity”.

In promoting the RIC process, Russia seems to have been guided by three developments. First, Russia’s inability to impede the eastward expansion of NATO. Its frustration over NATO’s unilateral military action in Kosovo forced Moscow to seek closer strategic understanding with China and India. Russia also found commonality with India and China in the perceived US bid for global hegemony, which was in direct conflict with their preference for a “multipolar world.”

The second reason from Russian point of view is that the three countries have problems with Islamic militants. India fights border problems everyday against radical Islamic fighters infiltrating from Pakistan into Kashmir. Besides Pakistan, India sees Afghanistan as a breeding ground for Islamic militants, a view fully shared by Russia. Moscow is concerned about the growth of Islamic fundamentalism in the five Central Asian Republics of the former Soviet Union (which Russia still sees as its sphere of influence). China’s problem with Islamic guerrillas focuses on the Muslim Uighar separatists in Xinjiang, an area of China rich in mineral resources. Beijing suspected that outside forces emanating from Afghanistan were feeding the disturbances, and Russian help on the border was needed to cut off that aid. Besides, as multi-ethnic states, Russia, China and India are concerned about the prospects of growing ethnic nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism in the region.

The third common interest is the arms trade. China and India account for nearly 70 percent of Russia’s arms exports. As it is, one of the important features of the Russian strategic and military blueprint is that Moscow will continue to assign the country’s military-industrial complex the responsibility of ensuring a considered presence in the world market of high technology Russian products and services. And, one of the goals of the military-industrial complex is to improve the system of intergovernmental cooperation in the military field. In this scheme of things, both India and China are extremely important, since both buy billions of dollars worth arms from Russia.

But the problem is that at times both India and China demand the same weapon systems with the same features. Because of special circumstances, India has always enjoyed a special status as an importer of Russian arms. Russia sends weapons of more value and substance. These weapons are not only latest but also those which are not even commissioned into the Russian armed forces.

Obviously, India will not like China to get the same features and facilities from the Russians. It is all the more so when there is a chance of some of those weapons finding their way to Pakistan. In that sense, by suggesting the concept of a Russia-China-India triangle, Moscow wants to appease the Indian sensitivities, with the hope that the idea will remove mutual suspicions between Delhi and Beijing.

But will this Russian policy succeed? It is extremely doubtful that it will, and that, in turn, is the reason why one does not see great virtues in India showing enthusiasm about the “triangle”. From Indian point of view, for any triangular relationship, China has to vacate the countervailing strategic space in favour of Pakistan. Since China is part of the strategic nexus with Pakistan aimed at India, how can India be part of a coalition in which two of its potential antagonists are inter-twined?

Secondly, given the anti-American overtone of the “triangle” concept, India may find it difficult to be associated with it, particularly when over the last few years Indo-US relations have witnessed unprecedented improvements, the Pakistan-factor notwithstanding. In fact, even China will not like any ganging up against the US for similar reasons. All told, the Chinese economy is crucially dependent on the American market. Whatever the ideologically oriented pro-China experts may say, the fact remains that China is excessively dependent on the international market both for resources and revenue generation. Just imagine what will happen if the Americans, particularly American-Chinese, stop investing in China and the US refuses to open its markets for Chinese goods.

Even otherwise, though Moscow advocates a durable and long-term framework of shared interests with India and China, unlike Indo-Russian relationship, the Sino-Russian link is controversial among influential Russian policymaking elites. Russia shares a long border with China and a long history of often bitter and complex relations. Besieged with a growing problem of demographic decline, many Russian analysts fear that Siberia and its far east would soon be over-run by migrant Chinese labour. This fear is genuine as anybody familiar with Chinese history will admit that Chinese territorial claims all over Asia often followed its emigrants. Likewise, the Russians are not comfortable with the growing Chinese activities in Central Asia, which Moscow always considers to be falling under its sphere of vital interests. Besides, it is also felt in Russian strategic circles that China, with ex-Soviet Union scientists and engineers working in its defence facilities, is producing weapons by reverse-engineering the Russian products and exporting them in the international market, particularly in Pakistan and North Korea.

Viewed thus, the RIC process, though a grand idea, has its obvious limitations. The conditions under which it was initiated are not exactly the same now for its real blossoming. Therefore, strategic partnerships among Russia , China and India are likely to remain strictly bilateral, that is, Russia-India, Russia-China and India-China. And when one comes to bilateral relations between India and Russia, the potentials are immense, to speak the least.

Indian-American hotelier Vikram Chatwal accused of trying to burn 2 dogs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indian-American hotelier Vikram Chatwal has been charged with criminal mischief for allegedly trying to light two dogs on fire, an allegation his lawyer has denied.Chatwal, 44, had turned himself to the police early on Tuesday morning and has been charged with criminal mischief, torture and injure animal, reckless endangerment and arson.The charges stem from an October 7 incident in which Chatwal allegedly got into an argument with a woman walking the dogs outside his home in the city. Chatwal, accused of allegedly pulling out a lighter and aerosol can to hurt the two dogs, pleaded not guilty to the charges during his appearance in a Manhattan court on Tuesday. Chatwal’s bail was set at $50,000 and the next hearing in the case is set for December 8.His attorney Arthur Aidala told PTI that Chatwal denies all the charges and “proclaims his innocence”. He said he is a non-violent person who would never injure an animal or human being. “His personality and disposition in his 44 years is not of somebody who would injure another animal or another human being,” Aidala said. He informed the judge that Chatwal’s “personality and disposition is that of a calm, peaceful and non-violent person” as Chatwal himself owns many dogs and even takes care of a horse.”He is known as being an animal lover. We vehemently disagrees with the set of facts that the prosecutor put forth in court,” Aidala said. Aidala said he also informed the judge that the dogs in this case were not hurt and were not even taken to the veterinarian until days after the alleged incident occurred.He said even the case the prosecutor puts forth says that some of the hair on the dogs’ back was burnt but none of the dogs were burned and neither did they suffer. It was among Chatwals’ priority to make sure that the dogs in question were unharmed and were well-treated and cared for, Aidala said. “The big takeaway from this is that the dogs were never hurt, that was very important to Vikram and his whole family to make sure no one is accusing him of actually hurting the dogs. Even the prosecutor said the dogs were never hurt.”What flies in the face of the charges is that Chatwal is just not the kind of person who is going to attack anybody, let alone the dogs walking down the street,” he said. Aidala said he would meet with the prosecutors in the coming months and explain to them what really happened. “We will try to work out some sort of disposition regarding case,” he added.

Donald Trump isn’t Narendra Modi: Tips for the confused keyboard-warrior

One would imagine that if not the headline, the conceit of its message would have been obvious enough.

Unfortunately, for most keyboard-warriors inhabiting the comments section of numerous news media websites, it’s not. Or doesn’t appear to be.

In fact, a certain section of social media has taken to conflating the Narendra Modi wave of 2014 with the unprecedented tsunami of support Donald Trump has been receiving ever since he announced his intention to enter the race for the White House, back in 2015. Worse yet, they are confusing the Indian definition of the Right with the American one.

That seems as a good a starting point as any, so let’s go from there.

As Jaideep Prabhu has written in the past, there is no clear ‘Indian Right’, to the extent that the conventional Right-Left binary does not apply very accurately to India’s political parties. That is because very few of India’s political parties, the mainstream ones at least, subscribe to the dichotomy of Right-Left in at least two major areas: Culture and economics. In terms of culture, political parties are painted in various hues of majoritarianism and minoritarianism, while in economics, free market policies and social welfare aren’t mutually exclusive.

So the idea that what falls under the umbrella of the Indian Right in anyway resembles the American Right is flawed in any case.

Moving on to the perceived Modi-Trump links (among the latter’s supporters at least) that marked this weekend’s Republican Hindu Coalition event, we find another incorrect — rather glaringly so — comparison. And here, let’s get down to brass tacks: Trump is not Modi.

A lazily-drawn similarity is that both men are nationalistic. But then so are Marine Le Pen and Xi Jinping, but we’re yet to see French-Indians and Chinese-Indians organising gala events to mark these similarities. Further, while both Modi and Trump  are indeed nationalistic, their form of nationalism varies greatly: While one espouses a more inclusive form that seeks to carry everyone along, the other pushes an exclusionary brand (which type links to which name is self-evident). In a sense, Modi’s approach has more closely resembled Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s message of ‘Stronger Together’, than Trump’s.

It’s worth pointing out here that a major difference between the two is that with Trump’s blunt, ill-informed rhetoric, he has gained followers through his divisive views. Modi has benefitted from the fact that members of his own party make fairly outrageous remarks, and emerged as a unifying force when he does take to his Mann ki Baats or public rallies to opine on issues.

Another lazy ‘similarity’ dragged out by the likes of the Republican Hindu Coalition is that Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ is in the same ballpark as Modi’s mantra of ‘Acche Din’. And while Modi, in the buildup to the 2014 General Election, spoke about a Congress-mukt India, Trump also seeks to wipe away all the ills apparently inflicted on the US by eight years of Democrat rule. This is another strange comparison to draw. It’s quite obvious that any Opposition party would cite the ruling dispensation’s unsuitability in order to win an election. In fact, if an Opposition party was to express satisfaction with the way the ruling regime has been doing things, one would wonder why it is even bothering with the election.

This brings us to the ugly truth.

File images of Narendra Modi and Donald Trump. PTI and AP

File images of Narendra Modi and Donald Trump. PTI and AP

What actually brought out the Hindu fundamentalist backing for Trump was his threat of a ban on Muslim immigrants — something he failed to completely back or dismiss over the course of the first two presidential debates. What this fundamentalist fringe fails to note, however, is the fact that this sort of discrimination in policy — presently on grounds of religion — could easily be transmuted to nationality over a period of time.

Trump has made ‘jobs for Americans’ and tightening immigration controls a major plank of his presidential campaign. To think he would abandon it on the basis of one little interaction with a section of Indian-Americans, and start handing out H1-B visas is beyond naive. And before comparisons are drawn to ‘Make in India’, it’s worth noting that Modi’s pet project — as it has been called in some quarters — was launched to increase manufacturing across the country, not to exclude other nationalities.

We could go into the differences between Modi and Trump as people: One, a self-made — that is to say, he worked his way through the cadres — career politician and the other, a man who has pretty much been handed everything in life. One who is respectful of women to the other who is-… well, you know. The dissimilarities are endless.

Suffice it to say: Narendra Modi is not Donald Trump.

The sooner this fact registers, the better off we’ll all be.


Thane call centre raids: Police suspect involvement of Guj cop’s son

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Investigation into the call centre racket in Thane wherein US-based tax payers were allegedly conned by Indian tele-callers posing as tax officers has led Thane Police to suspect involvement of the son of a senior IPS officer from Gujarat. Crime Branch (Thane Police) has so far arrested 70 persons after it raided seven call centres operating illegally in Mira Road in the neighbouring district earlier this month. Another 630 people were booked under IPC sections 384 (extortion), 419 (cheating by impersonation), 420 (cheating) and under relevant sections of the IT Act and Indian Telegraph Act. The callers used to make calls to people in the US and speak to them in American accent by posing as officials of US Internal Revenue Service. Subsequently, police teams also raided and shut down five call centres in Ahmedabad which were a part of the racket. A senior official of Thane Police, who is a part of investigation team, told PTI that the evidences unearthed so far indicated that the mastermind of the racket, Sagar Thakkar alias Shaggy, who is absconding, had links with a senior IPS officer’s son in Gujarat. According to the officer, it is suspected that the son of the IPS officer was involved in running these illegal call centres in Ahmedabad. Thane Police then passed on this information to their Gujarat counterparts, the officer said. Investigators found that the call centres in Ahmedabad, which were raided by local police recently, resumed their operations soon afterwards. Thane Crime Branch is probing why no concrete action was taken against these call centres, the official said. During interrogation of the arrested accused, investigators got information about illegal call centres running in Pralhad Nagar in Ahmedabad since 2009. Police also found a huge server installed in one of these call centres (in Ahmedabad) which had the entire data base generated from the call centres which were part of the racket, including the ones in Mira Road.

What does the ASI do?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It’s gone largely uncommented upon, but India has got back more of stolen antiquities back in the past two years than it did in all its nearly 70 year history as an independent nation. As per government records, we managed to retrieve 13 antiques between 1972, when we passed the Antiquities Act, and 2013; since 2014, however, we’ve already got back 22, and there’s probably more on the way back from the US and Australia. The hearts of most Indians, proud of their ancient culture and heritage, will be gladdened by this development. But was it a major investigation by the Indian government, our police or the Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI) that led to these recoveries? Not at all.All the illicit antiques returned in the past two years come from the Subhash Kapoor horde, those recovered or traced to the New York-based antiques smuggler who was arrested in 2011. It’s the US Homeland Security Investigation which has been pressuring American museums to look into their collections and double-check the antecedents of the artefacts they acquired from him that has resulted in the return of invaluable antiques such as the Toledo Ganesh. Similarly, the Australians launched a full-scale audit into all their south Asian collections after Kapoor’s arrest, the fruits of which are the three statues returned last month.In contrast, the Indian antiques policing system remains what it always was – nonexistent. Unlike Italy, or much smaller Cambodia, India – barring Tamil Nadu – does not have a dedicated police force to tackle antiques theft. The ASI, mandated to “protect” our cultural heritage, does not even have the funds to employ enough security guards to protect the monuments in its care – a mere 3650, of the estimated five lakh monuments around the country.Worse, there seems to have been little progress made in the documentation of antiquities and monuments around the country, so essential if we are not to loose any more of our heritage. The ASI does not even keep an eye on auctions or sales of antiques around the world, where much of the stolen works come for sale. Is it any wonder that thieves have, and continue to literally walk away with our antiques?

US rules out treaty alliance with India, says that era is over

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The US has ruled out any kind of treaty alliance with India, saying the 21st century is not an era of alliances and a mutual agreeable concept of major defence partner is a very apt description for India.”21st century is not an era of alliances. It is an era of identifying interest, common values and working together in solving all those problems. I do not think that anyone in the United States Government or the Indian Government has any compulsion at all to form a treaty alliance,” said Peter Lavoy, Senior Director for South Asia at the National Security Council (NSC), White House.He was responding to a question at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a top American think-tank.”Why have that shackle (of being a treaty alliance). I think, the friends that benefit from that are probably satisfactory. I would highlight a phrase that should not be underestimates Major Defence Partner (with India),” he said.”There was an understanding, growing perception that we have been doing so much together that we have expanded, deepened the boundaries of co-operation. But there was no brand or phrase or some term that qualified what this relationship is about. I think, the mutual agreeable concept of major defence partner is a very apt description,” he said.”It was largely driven by the extent of deepening co-operation. India achieves success rate of 99 per cent in licenses applied for. That is really astounding. Other kinds of technology is being transferred much more easily and readily than ever before. So there are very significant changes to our own policies and rules and procedures that enabled this defence partnership,” Lavoy said.Lavoy said even before India places a request for something, the United States is ready and prepared.”Well before a challenge arise, we are already working with India to try to prevent the things from occurring,” he said.”Each of the (US) departments have installed in them the critical importance of this partnership and have internalised thinking about India’s interest, thinking about our joint interest as a driving force and how we do business.That is completely transformational. That was not the case even in the beginning of the Obama Administration,” he said.

Calcium supplements may damage your heart: study

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking calcium in the form of supplements may raise the risk of plaque buildup in arteries and heart damage, although a diet high in calcium-rich foods appears to be protective, scientists have found.After analysing 10 years of medical tests on more than 2,700 people, researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the US, said the results add to growing scientific concerns about the potential harms of supplement. “Our study adds to the body of evidence that excess calcium in the form of supplements may harm the heart and vascular system,” said Erin Michos, from Johns Hopkins Medicine. Previous studies have shown that “ingested calcium supplements – particularly in older people – do not make it to the skeleton or get completely excreted in the urine, so they must be accumulating in the body’s soft tissues,” said nutritionist John Anderson, from University of North Carolina in the US. Scientists also knew that as a person ages, calcium-based plaque builds up in the body’s main blood vessel, the aorta and other arteries, impeding blood flow and increasing the risk of heart attack. The researchers looked at detailed information from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, a long-running research project which included more than 6,000 people. The study focused on 2,742 of these participants who completed dietary questionnaires and two CT scans spanning 10 years apart. The participants chosen for this study ranged in age from 45 to 84, and 51 per cent were female. At the study’s onset in 2000, all participants answered a 120-part questionnaire about their dietary habits to determine how much calcium they took in by eating dairy products, leafy greens and calcium-enriched foods such as cereals. For the analysis, the researchers first split the participants into five groups based on their total calcium intake, including both calcium supplements and dietary calcium. After adjusting the data for age, sex, race, exercise, smoking, income, education, weight, smoking, drinking, blood pressure, blood sugar and family medical history, researchers separated out 20 per cent of participants with the highest total calcium intake, which was greater than 1,400 milligrammes of calcium a day. That group was found to be on average 27% less likely than the 20% of participants with the lowest calcium intake – less than 400 milligrammes of daily calcium – to develop heart disease, as indicated by their coronary artery calcium test. The research was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

JNU hypocrisy: No room for courses on Hinduism at premier university

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is in the news again, but this time the national media has treated the news scantily. It has not paid enough attention to the fact that those who were agitating early this year to protect their right to dissent in JNU are now the suppressors of ideas coming from others who are not their “own”. For them, the university will do or practice what they want. It is they who will decide what is to be taught and how the university should be administered. Needless to say that these “dissenters” are mostly the so-called leftists and secularists; dissent for them means that they have the exclusive right to oppose things they do not like, but they deny the same right to those who disagree with them.

Anita Singh, a JNU professor, has told DNA that she was abused and attacked inside the university campus by a group of students, instigated by the Left-dominated students union and teachers association, while she stepped out of the meeting of the university’s statutory decision-making body, the academic council (AC), late on 7 October. Abused as a “sanghi”, Singh, who is the dean, School of Law and Governance, told the paper that she earned the students’ ire because, “I had presented the proposal for introducing a disaster research programme in the university for a trans-disciplinary programme, the talks for which have been going on since 2011, and that has already been passed by five standing committees. But the JNUSU thinks that any new innovation is ‘bhagwakaran‘(saffronisation) and I was attacked as soon as I stepped out.”

File image of the JNU campus. JNU website

File image of the JNU campus. JNU website

Singh has spoken about the events that took place outside the AC meeting. But what happened inside the AC meeting was equally gratuitous. Here, in the name of “secularism”, the majority rejected a proposal of the University Grants Commission (UGC) of introducing three short-term courses in Indian culture and yoga. According to the UGC’s proposed draft, the course on Indian culture aimed at expounding the importance of the country’s culture as well as exploring the etymological, social, spiritual, cultural and mythological aspects and establishing Indian values in the world. “The course will contain the texts, thoughts and traditions of different cultures and include things like religious systems in Indian culture among others. Besides, it will have portions from Vedas and selections from epics and Jatakas and suggestions on readings of Hindu epics like the Ramayana,” the draft read. It was argued in the draft that Indian culture cannot be understood without the help of “Indian literature, which is generally written by sages”.

Now, if JNU, one of India’s foremost universities, refuses to teach Indian culture and yoga with the logic that it would lead to promotion of Hinduism in a secular country, then where else can one study Hinduism in India, where 80 percent of the population happens to be Hindus? And here, I came across a report in the Hindu, dated 13 July, 2013, that said that one Subadra Muthuswami, who had a Master’s degree in public health from Columbia University, hoped to pursue her interest in Hinduism when she returned to India. “Since I am in India, I decided to do research to understand why we practice rituals and rites in Hinduism. But I understand that no university offers a comprehensive course in Hinduism studies,” she told the paper.

Subadra discovered that the University of Madras had programmes in Vaishnavism and Indian philosophy, but not on “Sanatan Dharma” (Hinduism) as a whole, even though the university “has separate departments for Christian and Islamic studies”. She was told by senior professors that “universities are secular places where Hinduism as a religion cannot be taught. Sources in the university said when the department wanted to offer a paper in yoga (which is also a shastra) last year, the move was opposed on the grounds that it was endorsed by a political party.”

One fails to understand that how a university that has departments on Christian and Islamic Studies considers offering a paper on yoga, let alone Hinduism, will tarnish its secular character. As a result, in India one can study Hinduism — and this was what Subadra discovered — only in private or spiritual organisations like Swami Shivananda Institute, Chinmaya Mission, Iskcon and Vedanta Academy (Mumbai).

In contrast, let us the situation abroad. I just did a Google search to find western universities offering courses on Hinduism and Indian culture. And this was what I found. The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies is a recognised “Independent Centre” of Oxford University. The principal aim of the Centre is “the study of Hindu culture, religion, languages, literature, philosophy, history, arts and society, in all periods and in all parts of the world.” Cambridge University teaches Vedanta, Vyakarana and Sanskrit philosophy along with Buddhism. London’s School of Oriental and African Studies offers courses on “Indian philosophy, especially Vyākaraṇa and Mīmāṃsā, Sanskrit philology, Sanskrit scientific literature.” In fact, many British universities such as Sussex, Manchester, Leeds and Edinburgh have departments on Theology and Religious Studies that teach, among others, “Sāṅkhya and Pātañjala Yoga.” Sweden’s Stockholm university has courses on Indian Philosophy, especially “Nyāya and Buddhism.” In Brussels (Belgium), “Vrije Universiteit” (Antwerp FVG, Faculty for Comparative Study of Religions) teaches Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Indian Philosophy, especially “Vedānta schools and Kaśmīr Śaivism.” University of Vienna (Institute of South Asian, Tibetology and Buddhist Studies) has programmes on “Sanskrit philosophy, Āyurveda and Sanskrit philology.” There are many universities and institutes in Germany that give special emphasis to Sanskrit, Indian philosophical texts and Indian religions, including “Veda, Pāli and Epics”.

Coming to the US, Concordia University States has a chair in Hindu Studies that is dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of Hinduism. There is the J Newton Rayzor Chair in Philosophy and Religious Thought at Rice University that studies Hinduism. Case Western Reserve University has a department on South Asian religions. So has also Emory University. Then there are famous professors like Wendy Doniger at the University of Chicago who has written many books on Hinduism, some of them controversial though.

The questions that emerge from the illustrated list (not exhaustive) above are this: Are these western educational institutions having departments of theology and offering courses on comparative religions communal? If not, how can the Indian institutions offering courses on Hinduism or related subjects like yoga be branded communal, that too in a country where 80 percent of the people happen to be Hindus? And thirdly, if our “secularists” consider the book on Hinduism (which has shown the religion in negative manner) by American Indologist Wendy Doniger, a Professor of “Religions” in an American university, a great scholarly work, why cannot they promote similar scholarly works in Indian universities? Is it not double standards to applaud work on Hinduism by foreign scholars in foreign universities but deny the Indian scholars to work on the same subject in Indian universities?

File image of JNU students protesting on campus earlier this year. PTI

File image of JNU students protesting on campus earlier this year. PTI

In fact, as the recent development in JNU has proved once again, our so-called liberals and seculars, who dominate the country’s education system, will leave no stone unturned to foil any attempt by any university in India to introduce courses on “Religions”. They will have nothing to do with the promotion of a “dead language” such as Sanskrit. Even any elective, repeat elective, course on “Vastu Sashtra” will be dismissed (as it happened in a Madhya Pradesh University some years ago) as attempts towards “saffronisation”. But minorities can pursue studies on their respective religions. As a result, what we see today is that the Muslims children learn about Islam and the Quran in Madrasas and the Christian children learn the essence of Christianity and the Bible in educational institutions founded and managed by them. Under the Indian Constitution, the minorities are allowed to have their own educational institutions and the certificates or degrees thereof are recognised legally.

In contrast, the children of the majority of the Hindu community do not have such facilities. Even at the school-level, whenever there are attempts to teach the children about the Ramayana, the Mahabharata or the Gita, the “secular brigade” makes a lot of hue and cry. And ironically, all these elements, who dominate the Indian academia and media, will want books critical of Hinduism to flourish in India but they will advise against the circulation of anything that is critical of other religions.

Such are their double standards!

Four more call centres raided in Thane for conning Americans, one arrested

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Four more call centres in Mira Road in Thane were raided and one person arrested, days after police swooped on three other call centres for allegedly conning American nationals by posing as US taxmen, police said on Sunday.The crime branch officials raided the four call centres on Saturday and arrested one person, but his identity was not revealed as it may affect probe in the case.While police could not nab the owners and employees as the call centres were found deserted, around 250 computers were seized out of which 100 had no hard discs.A police team has also gone to Gujarat to nab the kingpin of the racket, they said.During the raids conducted last week at three call centres, 70 persons were arrested, and another 630 people booked under IPC sections 384 (extortion), 419 (cheating by impersonation), 420 (cheating) and under relevant sections of the IT Act and Indian Telegraph Act, police said.The callers used to make calls to people in the US and speak to them in American accent by posing as officials of US Internal Revenue Service.A senior police official had earlier said that though salary of the employees was in range of Rs 10,000-40,000 per month, some of them earned up to Rs 1 lakh per month.”The employees were fully trained in US accent and were given SOP and call sheet, based on which they used to make calls to the ‘tax defaulters’,” he said.”They use to make at least 100 calls per day of which 10 to 15 calls would materialise and of these three to four people would make payment under threat by the conmen,” he said.If the caller earned US $10,000–20,000 for company by making the gullible US citizen pay, he would get a good incentive, police said.The daily turnover of these call centres was to the tune of nearly Rs 1 crore to Rs 1.50 crore, and the annual turn over could be well above Rs 300 crore.Police said during interrogation of the arrested persons they have got some vital information which would help them in probing the case further.

Mumbai: Multi-million dollar call center racket claims life of US woman

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The multi-million dollar call center racket allegedly claimed the life of an elderly American woman, who was threatened after refusing to meet the demands of the call centre employees posing as US revenue officials.According to Thane Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, who is credited with exposing the racket, the probe team hit upon the vital information when it was scanning the seized call record hard disks.The unidentified American national is said to have died after allegedly suffering a stroke following a threatening call by an employee, Singh told a section of media on Friday without elaborating further.
ALSO READ Cops probe call centres’ link to Indians held in US last yearThe incident was revealed from a call record wherein the son of the woman is heard abusing the caller for the death of his mother.The probe team is trying to locate the call (its place and time) and fix the employee in question after which the police is likely to slap additional charges under section 304 of the IPC on the accused, he said.
ALSO READ Call centre scam: 6,400 US citizens complained to IRS last year: Thane policeThe callers used to seek financial and bank details of US citizens and if the victims refused the information, they would allegedly threaten them with dire consequences including legal action and penalties.The racket was exposed after city police raided three call centres, which were run illegally at the premises of Hari Om IT Park, Universal Outsourcing Services and Oswal House in Mira Road locality in Thane district, on Tuesday night.The callers used to make calls to people in the US and conned them after speaking in American accent by posing as officials of US Internal Revenue Service.According to police, some of the call centre employees earned up to Rs 1 lakh per month as a reward by the racket operators for making US nationals cough up money.The employees were fully trained in US accent and were given SOP and call sheet, based on which they used to make calls to the ‘tax defaulters’.They used to make at least 100 calls per day of which 10-15 calls would materialise and of these 3-4 people would make payment under threat by the conmen, police said.The daily turnover of these call centres is said to be to the tune of nearly Rs 1 crore to Rs 1.50 crore, and the annual turnover could be well above Rs 300 crore.Besides arresting 70 people, Kashimira police has booked another 630 people under IPC sections 384 (extortion), 419 (cheating by impersonation), 420 (cheating) and under relevant sections of IT Act and Indian Telegraph Act.Also, police have spread a dragnet for nabbing 12 absconding accused in the case including two directors of Universal Outsourcing Services, namely Tapan Gupta and Arjun Vasu. It is also tracing the money trail as well as gauging the quantum of the fraud.All 70 persons arrested so far are in police custody till October 10.

Kashmir dispute: India, Pakistan must seek resolution to prevent nuclear doom scenario

In less than six months from now, thirty years would have passed since the Kashmir elections were rigged. An incident which perpetuated three decades of violence bringing hell to the valley that has been described as heaven on earth.

An unfinished business of the partition of the subcontinent, Kashmir is one of the largest and most militarised territorial disputes between India and Pakistan. It’s also something the world should always worry about as it may trigger the next nuclear conflict on the planet.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

A peaceful resolution of the conflict, which drains most of the resources of the two poor nations, should be a priority of the patriotic politicians on both sides. It is mind-boggling that the conflict has gone on for seven decades and no voices of reason have prevailed even though a large part of the population in India and Pakistan is under the yoke of poverty and disease.

By estimates of the World Bank, only 34 percent of Indians have access to a toilet. In Pakistan, only 48 percent of the population has access to ‘facilities and services for the safe disposal of human urine and feces’.

Yet this festering and dangerous conflict remained unresolved for the last 69 years, causing hostility, and over which India and Pakistan have fought more than one war. I cannot fathom the resources that these two neighbors have squandered on their respective war machines when the people in both countries grind under the burden of misery.

In the pursuit of a resurgent India vis-à-vis the Chinese behemoth, the West has largely ignored this flash point which by some estimates can bring the world to a nuclear doom. The possibility of nuclear winter is not far-fetched. The West would rather look for a counterweight to emerging China and forget about its moral sermons that are all too often delivered in its own interests.

Remember Palestine, Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, and now Syria? Why should Kashmir be different?

Over the years, the voices of reason have periodically emerged exposing the sinister effect of the events in India-held Kashmir — mass graves, extrajudicial killings and innumerable human rights violations documented by none other than international organisations like Amnesty International, the UN, Human Rights Watch and others like Panjak Mishra and Gautam Navlakha.

The case of human rights lawyer Parvez Imroz who won the Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Prize by Human Rights Institute of The Bar of Bordeaux, France, and the European Bar Human Rights Institute, is well known. This is the same prize that Nelson Mandela won in 1985. Not only Imroz was denied an Indian passport to receive the prize, but the security forces in Srinagar even tried to kill him and his family.

In spite of deployment of the Army with powers unbefitting a democracy, the Congress government had largely been successful in concealing the events in Kashmir, and thus, avoid discourse over this conflict. It also succeeded in placing in some form of obscurity with Western complicity.

Security officials in Kashmir. PTI

Security officials in Kashmir. PTI

How would the world know about the plight of Kashmiris when travel to Kashmir was impossible? But thanks to the advent of social media in the last 10 to 15 years, the world would come to know about what goes on in J&K.

Despite its ruthless suppression, Congress rule was successful in insulating the conflict from the international community, in which 100,000 people were killed. But the recent events by the BJP government have brought it out in the open. In its pursuit of nationalist agenda, the BJP government may have blundered by once again internationalising the issue which on the surface may have remained dormant. As late as July 2016, the leading intellectuals of the world have written a letter to the Indian government to stop its repression in the valley. Most notables among the more-than-850 who signed the letter were Noam Chomsky and Meena Kandasamy.

Interestingly, the hawkish media on both sides of the border is relentless in voicing claims, counter claims, denials and counter denials.
Personally, I don’t know what to make of all this rhetoric and hoopla that is damaging to the cause of peace. The media on both sides has become a propaganda machine of each other’s government, and frankly, it is useless to look for any objective analysis in a discourse full of insults, harangues, lies and half-truths. It has been almost two weeks since Uri. While there is non-stop and nonsensical coverage of Kashmir in the media both in India and Pakistan. I only find reasonable voices about the incident when I scour the world media including today’s Jerusalem Post, The New York Times, Le Monde, or any other major newspaper of the world that comes to my mind.

In the West’s ambivalence for whatever reasons aside, Pakistan and the Kashmiri people found an opportunity a fortnight ago to bring the issue to the fore in the international arena when India supposedly made a surgical strike across the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK). Although the timing may have been carefully calculated by New Delhi since the Americans are busy in their presidential election, it doesn’t seem to have as much impact as India may have expected, or hoped, and without impunity.

The respective claims of Indian and the Pakistani governments aside, buttressed by the clamour on the media of both countries, the Indian surgical strike across the Line of Control for whatever aims, domestic or international, were albeit partially successful or even a failure. Nonetheless, it was something dangerous and irresponsible whether one believes the Indian or the Pakistani version of the incident.

While Modi government may have succeeded in satisfying the demands of the Hindu nationalist at home, with the deployment of more than 700,000 troops in the Kashmir valley (that amounts to one soldier for seventeen inhabitants), the Modi government may have miscalculated, and brought the Kashmir dispute, once again, into the international arena.

This gave a sound reason to Pakistan to internationalise the event while at the same time deny the incursion to begin with. Whatever may have happened, ironically, a segment of the extremists still lament the loss of a ‘window of opportunity’ soon after the attack on Uri, which in their wishful thinking, would have punished Pakistan.

What the nationalist didn’t do was entertain the possibility that rubbing the Pakistani nose could have surpassed the threshold which may have unleashed the Pakistani nuclear arsenal thus bringing havoc to the subcontinent and the world. In that case, India could not have sat back, and its retaliatory strike would have certainly caused the feared and awful mutual assured destruction.

Therefore, was the surgical strike worth taking the risk?

The conventional wisdom dictates that while the decision to carry out the surgical strike may have been made in New Delhi, the restraint that the Modi government displayed could have been due to orders coming from Washington, India’s newly found friend that still has enormous interests in Pakistan. Were the policy makers in New Delhi so euphoric in their love for the Americans, that they imagined that the US would ignore its assets in Afghanistan and beyond, just for the sake of returning a warm handshake? It was ironic that the hawkish Indian Prime Minister on 5 October admonished his sabre-rattling domestic allies to refrain from commenting on the incident unless they are cleared by the defense officials. It was a smart move, indeed.

How could the warming of relationship with Washington have been sacrificed by drumming up the significance of the strike in the first place?

The fact is that the Modi government finds itself precisely between a rock and a hard place. It is true that the nationalist Hindutva sentiment is a genie that is no longer in the bottle and no matter what Modi and his allies want to do with it, supporting the nationalist agenda is not sustainable. The BJP may have used this genie to succeed in elections and gain popularity on the domestic scene, but there is no end to the demands of the domestic nationalist, who seem to have started to meddle in the security of the Republic of India basing their actions on whimsical behaviour. With time it has become more difficult for the BJP to deliver to its constituency that is virulently anti-peace in the subcontinent. I might ask what will happen to India that is resurgent and moving ahead with a robust growth, in case a war breaks out with Pakistan? Delusions aside, after Bangladesh, Pakistan is not ready for a defeat or even a humiliation.

The talk of war is thus dangerous and mutually suicidal.

Moreover, and notwithstanding that Congress may have hailed the strikes albeit in much cooler terms, the party of Sonia Gandhi has paid only lip service to the incident and thus avoided alienating its Muslim vote bank in particular, and the voices of reason, in general. The time has come once again to peacefully resolve the Kashmir issue despite the previous, chronic and ossified intransigence.

A Kashmiri youth resists arrest. Reuters

A Kashmiri youth resists arrest. Reuters

Another earlier miscalculation by the hawks in New Delhi regarding the international opinion may have been due to the false belief that the events in Kashmir have remained concealed thus providing impunity. But that is also not true. The American election campaign in full swing coupled with the public relation spree by Modi has brought goodwill to India, but it has not been able to prevent the world’s reaction to what is going on in the valley.

Amnesty International issued a report regarding failures in accountability for human rights violations by security force personnel in Jammu and Kashmir. A detailed report addresses rape among other atrocities against the civilian population can be read here.

In the wake of the horrible Mumbai attack, the former British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband wrote:
“The issue is not whether we need to attack the use of terror at its roots, with all the tools available. We must. The question is how.”

He further goes on to say that the terrorists are not an enemy that is united in a single army acting across borders and the war on terrorism therefore cannot be binary, between good and evil, between right and wrong.

Although terrorism is to be tackled at its root, by removing its weapons supply, by eliminating its finances and by emasculating its agenda. But you can turn blue in your face if the people you call ‘terrorists’ have a backer that is a state, and it has a legitimate claim recognised by the international community. Since one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist, the problem of Kashmir can only be solved with trilateral participation of the Kashmiris, Pakistanis and the Indians, by sitting on the negotiating table. Only cooperation can work in this case.

Therefore, the blame game in which Pakistan is touted as the root cause of terrorism is not going to solve the conflict. And despite its public denial for the sake of the international decorum, why should Pakistan not deny whatever it does in the India-held-Kashmir? Just like what India does in Baluchistan. The fact remains that Kashmir is a dispute that needs to be resolved. And it must be resolved by peaceful means. Both Kashmiris and Pakistanis are part of the conflict and a triad that includes them and the Indians is the only way that a peaceful settlement can be achieved, and nothing else.

No amount of rhetoric, posturing or appeasement of the domestic constituencies is going to solve the issue and since all else has failed, the only way out of the morass is for cooler heads to prevail and negotiations to start. The sooner the better. The people in both countries have had enough of miserable existence.

The author is an American Physician of Pakistani decent.

Perfumer Monica Ghurde found murdered in Goa; police sends teams to neighbouring states

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Banking on a few leads, Goa Police has sent teams to neighbouring states to nab the absconding accused in the murder case of high-profile perfume specialist Monica Ghurde.”We will be able to crack this case soon. We are working on different theories. on Friday, we have sent teams to different locations including neighbouring states,” Deputy Inspector General of Police Vimal Gupta told PTI today.The 39-year-old photographer-turned perfumer was found dead in her rented flat in posh Sangolda village on October 6.Police suspect that she was raped and murdered somewhere between October 5 afternoon and night, as she had not been in touch with anyone since that time.The cops are ruling out robbery as nothing was missing from the flat raising suspicions that the killer might have been known to Monica.Gupta said the woman originally hailed from Nagpur and was married to a photographer Bharat Ramamrutam from Tamil Nadu and was residing at Porvorim near here before she separated from her husband and shifted to Sangolda this year.”Police investigations have revealed that she had shifted to Sangolda in July this year and was staying alone,” the DIG said.He said the police are waiting the postmortem report, which would reveal the exact cause of death.Gupta said the murder came to light when the maid who came around 9 AM on October 6 found that the door was locked.When Monica did not open it despite repeated knocks she raised an alarm.”The maid later informed Monica’s brother (Anand, based in Mumbai) who in turn called her husband (Bharat) and then her neighbour, an American woman who had spare keys following which the door was opened and the body was found,” he said.A case has been registered under section 302 (murder) of the IPC.The perfumer, who was a regular on Goa’s social circuit is said to have met Ramamrutham in Mumbai while she was a photographer. She had done her photography course from Mumbai’s JJ Institute of Applied Arts.Subsequently, she moved to Chennai in 2009 to pursue her interest in perfumes, and later shifted to Goa in 2011. Monika had set up her perfume-making company Mo Lab, and was also researching perfumery. She collaborated with eminent designers such as Jean Francois Lesage, Christian Louboutin and Anand Kabra.