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Karlov’s assasination:Russia rubbishes Turkey’s theory,rules out US involvement

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Turkey and Russian relations have been very uneven and the assassination of Russian Ambassador Andrey G Karlov was apparently an expression of anger by a lone Islamist who screamed Allahu Akbar adding ” Don’t forget Syria, Don’t forget Aleppo”but Russian president has chosen not to escalate the incident though there are  discussions of World War III breaking out on the lines of World War 1 that started after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria,the heir  to the Austro-Hungarian throne.

But the motives of the assassin, Mevlut Mert Altintas are not known. He could be connected to a jihadist group ie ISIS or lodging a protest against the role of Russia in Syria or could otherwise be a person with Islamic inclination.

As Turkey accused exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen for the killing of Russia’s envoy to Ankara ,Kremlin spokesman Dimitri peskov stated that Turkey should not be in a rush to make conclusions  and wait for the results of a joint investigation.

If it is Islamic inclination or jihadist group than it is a cause for worry because the migration from war-ridden countries like Syria  and others has led such persons to various countries of the world and it is difficult to identify such elements from amongst the migrants.

While Russia has its own problem in Caucasus having large Muslim population where  recently a leader of Islamic State militant group was killed in Caucasus region of Daghestan.There has been a long history of armed insurgency in the North Caucasus  between Russia  and militants associated  with the Caucasus Emirate  and Islamic State of Iraq and Levant.

Even ISIS released a video in which the members of the jihadist group warned Russian President Vladimir Putin and threatened “Putin,we will come to Russia  and will kill you at your homes.”

As a staunch ally of Bashar al-Assad,Russia actually intervened militarily in the Syrian civil war in September 2015 and conducted air raids on the rebel and jihadist groups. But in November 2015 , Turkey shot down  a Russian jet  that precipitated a major crisis. Then in 2016 President Recep Tayyip Erdogen held talks with Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg and mended ties after the failed military coup in Turkey.

The bone of contention is that Turkey is preventing Syrian Kurdish groups along its border with Syria that may strengthen Kurdish separatism in Turkey while Russia  considers Assad as an strategic ally in Syria and is increasing the number of its allies to oppose US .

Meanwhile, Turkey has accused United States for conspiring with Turkish  cleric Fethullah Gulen to bring down the Turkish government in a coup.

Erdogen ,who has been allowing militants including the Islamic State jihadists to cross into Syria now finds Russia a better ally than US to secure his presidency and his interests in Syria.Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu,who is currently in Moscow for talks with Russia’s Sergey Lavrov and Iran’s Mohammad Javed Zarif  agreed to find a political solution to Syria .

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By : Arti Bali Senior Journalist

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Narendra Modi-Xi jinping meet : Agendas and priorities

Modi government politics are putting national security at risk by not acknowledging the construction of roads, seven helipads, trenches and deploying of military vehicles by the Chinese PLA near the face-off site in Doklam from December to January 2018.

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Narendra Modi-Xi Jinping

The Modi government has been deeply involved in a secretive meetings and agreements with China keeping the people of India including the Opposition parties in dark amidst the heavy deployment of PLA and military vehicles in South Doklam, providing Chinese access to the ‘Jampheri Ridge’ that overlooks the Siliguri Corridor i.e. the strategic ‘Chicken Neck’ which is the ‘Gateway to India’s North East’.

The informal meeting between PM Modi and President Xi Jinping in the Wuhan on the banks of Yangtze is being billed as “unprecedented” and “the most important since 1988” by the Chinese media, even though the agenda of the talks are shrouded in secrecy.

But the media of both the countries are predicting that both the leaders will be setting aside the differences to built trust for maintaining Sino-India ties through the developments at the LAC (Line of actual control)  is not in India’s national interest as China has expansionist vision and Doklam incident has raised embarrassing questions for Narendra Modi on the deal it had struck  with Beijing in the Sikkim-Butan-Tibet trijunction area.

The Modi government was questioned numerous times by the Opposition inside and outside the Parliament about the crucial developments at the border with China, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi remains silent and defiant Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said the status-quo at the face-off site in Doklam near the Sikkim- Bhutan- Tibet- tri-junction has not been altered.

The tensions between India and China increased when Indian Armed Forces stopped China from building a road in Doklam plateau in June 2017 leading to a 73-day Stand-off with China. But PM Narendra Modi, who was more than willing to attend the BRICS summit in China from Septemeber 3-5,2017, hurriedly asked the External affairs ministry to resolve the issue and on Aug 28,a statement was issued that both India and China have agreed on “expeditious disengagement of border personnel at the face-off site at Doklam” thus betraying the people of India by not disclosing the very details of the disengagement, nullifying the efforts of the armed forces and keeping them at risk at the Line of actual control.

There is now the likelihood of increasing face-offs and transgressions by the renewed muscle-flexing” by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at the disputed and sensitive areas” on the 4,057-km LAC, stretching from eastern Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh.

Modi government came to power on the promise of giving a transparent and accountable government but there are many discrepancies about what transpired between the meeting between PM Modi and President Xi Jinping at BRICS and the recent visits by both Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj when they met their Chinese counterparts from 20-24th April.

Congress leaders and media in charge Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “There is a complete omission of the two Cabinet Ministers to confront China on the creation of ‘full-fledged Chinese Military Complex’ in Doklam right upto 10m from Indian Army post.”

Modi government politics are putting national security at risk by not acknowledging the construction of roads, seven helipads, trenches and deploying of military vehicles by the Chinese PLA near the face-off site in Doklam from December to January 2018.

It is astonishing and alarming the PM Modi who in 2014 used to brag his 56-inch chest and assured the voters that he will not allow China to enter into India’s territory also turned out a “Jumla”.

It is being talked that Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping will seek a solution to border disputes during their meeting on 27-28 April that will herald a new Sino-India relationship.

But it is questionable when India is having boundary dispute with China and Chinese military has built roads that can give its PLA troops access to the southern part of the Doklam plateau, thus, giving it easy access to the ‘JampheriRidge’ that overlooks the Siliguri Corridor i.e. the strategic ‘Chicken Neck’ which is the ‘Gateway to Northern states of India .

Surejewala said, “When Congress party pointed out this apparent Chinese threat, Modi Govt, through External Affairs issued a statement on two occasions denying any such construction by the Chinese.

Contradicting Sushma, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman admitted on the floor of the Parliament that Chinese Army “had undertaken construction of some infrastructure, including sentry posts, trenches and helipads”.

India is under continuous threat along the Line of Actual control as there is a heavy deployment of PLA troops at Doklam and concrete observation tower about 10m from the Indian Army’s forward post has been constructed beside other military infrastructure.

Uptill now China was using soft power to pursue its One Road One belt initiative but now it is adopting aggressive approach after President Xi Jinping was regarded as the most powerful Chinese leader in Line with Mao and his doctrine as been enshrined in the Constitution of China.

No doubt Xi Jinping is credited with making China an Asian power by building military infrastructure in the South China Sea and knitting ties with countries in Indian’s neighborhood.

But Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s credentials of being nationalist is highly questionable as he does not disclose the details of the deals that he struck with other countries flouting the rules of the Constitution and the Prime Ministers post that national security is highly important.

India and China are rivals due to the fact that both countries aspire to become Asian power but China’s influence has increased manyfold in the region.

But during Modi’s rule, China under Xi emerged as the strongest leader and made his country a manufacturing giant and with his ambitious OBOR China dominates the global trade market and connects China to Asia and  Europe.

During his four year rule, Modi has just talked about connectivity, ties and terrorism on his foreign trips but failed to do anything substantial or address the basic concerns of our Armed forces: the ammunition, weapons, good food and modernising defence through technology.

Xi Jinping’s agenda

  • Seeking India’s endorsement of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • Try to forge a pro-globalization alliance against U.S. President Donald Trump.
  • Talks to resolve boundary disputes: Beijing claims Arunachal Pradesh to be the part of its southern Tibet. The territory, a key focus of a 1962 war fought between the Asian giants.
  • Another hotly contested territory by both countries is Aksai Chin, which New Delhi considers part of its Jammu and Kashmir state while China believes the zone belongs to its Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
  • Strategically and militarily Doklam is important and that’s why China has moved its weaponry, deployed PLA troops with massive military infrastructure and logistics.
  • Beijing has constructed a road in Doklam for easy access to CHICKEN NECK, which connects India to northeastern states

China can block it in the event of a war between India and China and can completely cut the supply of northeast from other parts of the country. China has expansionist history and Xi has been asserting territorial and maritime claims where ever he desires through soft and hard approach.

The priority of Xi is to forge trilateral cooperation among Nepal, India, and China.
Modi government had criticised President Xi Jinping’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative but how Xi is going to convince Modi for an India-Nepal-China economic corridor is to be seen. China has proposed an India-Nepal-China economic corridor with multi-dimensional connectivity through the Himalayas after Nepalese Foreign Minister held talks with his Chinese counterpart.

Modi’s agenda

  • To win 2019 Lok Sabha Polls and wants to show stability.
  • Eager to enter into an elite club of 48-member NSG Nuclear Suppliers Group and China remains the biggest obstacle as it has been opposing India’s bid primarily on the grounds that Delhi is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
  • Looking for long-term relations.
  • Want cooperation on terrorism.
  • New Delhi wants support from China to label Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a terrorist.

China’s global image

  • China is the rising economic and military power in Asia after Congress unanimously approved incorporation of Xi’s ideological contribution into the Party Constitution as ‘Xi Jinping’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era’.
  • China — the second most important economic power after the U.S.
  • China has knitted close ties with countries in India’s neighborhood and invested billions of dollars in the economies of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
  • In Addition, Beijing has been pursuing territorial and maritime claims.
  • While North Korean leader Kim Jong un’s friendly meeting with Xi Jinping in Beijing has brought China into a central position by reinserting into the diplomatic negotiations.
  • China’s military modernisation and reforms are intrinsic to its goals of expanding its political and economic footprint across the world.
  • China is increasing its economic, military, and strategic influence in Nepal.
  • India’s position
    Rising Unemployment, Economy is in a bad shape due to demonetisation.
  • Finance minister Arun Jaitley has not given a good amount of defence budget for 2018 and it will neither enable the armed forces to achieve defence preparedness nor allow them to undertake the military modernisation.
  • The Indian military revealed that a shortage of 15 to 20 percent exists in the stocks of critical war material.
  • Rising fundamentalism and divide among communities.

PM Modi has to very tactful and cautious while dealing with China as Delhi has to take care of national interests. Delhi and China can never be trading partners but can be short-term, economic partners. Moreover, Delhi has also embraced the Trump Administration’s concept of Indo-Pacific and revived the quadrilateral security dialogue with Washington, Tokyo and Canberra.

 

Blog : By Arti Bali,
arti

(Senior Journalist)

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A go getter, Kamal Nath faces onerous task as MP state chief

Kamal Nath will be expected to replicate at state level his own expertise in repeatedly winning elections from Chhindwara.

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Kamal Nath Sciendia

Kamal Nath, who the Congress has appointed as the new Madhya Pradesh unit chief in a bid to break BJP’s hold in the state, is seen as a go-getter, a quick decision-maker and a smart tactician, who has won nine Lok Sabha elections.

He faces an onerous task in his new role to lead the party’s effort to unseat the well-entrenched BJP in Madhya Pradesh, where Congress has been out of power for the last 15 years.

With about seven months left for the assembly elections, Kamal Nath, 71, will need to take quick steps to galvanise the party unit and forge appropriate social and caste matrix for party’s success.

While his seniority and acceptability across different factions of the state unit is seen as an advantage, Kamal Nath will be called upon to use his resourcefulness to inject a momentum into the party’s as quickly as possible to face the poll change.

The central leaderhip took its time in announcing a leadership change in the Madhya Pradesh as it weighed various options.

There was speculation that Jyotiradtiya Scindia, 47, a four-time MP, would be declared the chief ministerial candidate.

Kamal Nath was in favour of an early announcement of the chief ministerial candidate and had gone on record to state that he would welcome announcement about Scindia being declared the candidate.

Scindia has now been made Chairman of the Campaign Committee for the assembly polls.

Though the party has not formally announced a Chief Ministerial candidate, Kamal Nath is seen as a front runner for the post in case the party gets a majority.

Kamal Nath has signalled that he will take along all leaders, including former Chief Minister Digvijay Singh, in his efforts to unseat the BJP. Singh had embarked on a Narmada Yatra recently and has considerable support base across the state.

Among the factors that seem to have worked in favour of Kamal Nath are his vast organisational and administrative experience and his resourcefulness.

Kamal Nath’s appointment also signals Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s endeavour to give regard to experience of party’s senior leadership while making crucial election-related decisions.

There was speculation that young leaders will be appointed to key posts in states after Gandhi’s elevation as party chief in December last.

Kamal Nath not only has to take on three-time Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the electoral arena but faces a BJP election machinery which has shown considerable booth level dexterity under party chief Amit Shah. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP’s most popular campaigner, is also expected to campaign extensively in Madhya Pradesh in the run-up to the assembly polls.

Kamal Nath will be expected to replicate at state level his own expertise in repeatedly winning elections from Chhindwara.

He has undertaken several welfare initiatives in Chhindwara and maintained a connect with the voters. He retained his seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls despite the BJP sweeping the elections in Madhya Pradesh. He was later elected pro-term Speaker, being the senior-most member of the 16th Lok Sabha.

Kamal Nath has been a union minister in different Congress-led governments and has also held organisational posts including being in-charge of Gujarat and Haryana in his nearly four-decade political career.

Kamal Nath also has friends across the political spectrum. A friend of the late Sanjay Gandhi, he was first elected to Lok Sabha in 1980. He was Minister of Environment and Forests as also Textiles Minister during the Narasimha Rao government.

Kamal Nath was a key member of the two UPA governments and was Commerce and Industry Minister from 2004-2009. During the UPA-II government, he held portfolios of Road Transport and Highways, Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs.

As India’s Commerce minister, he championed the cause of developing countries at WTO ministerial meetings.

He also took initiatives for the protection of the environment.

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Look, who is talking about diminishing the authority of the judiciary

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The Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court of India. (File Photo: IANS)

There is no procedure under the law except through an impeachment motion to remove an errant judge. When all processes are politicised and the media is held captive with its key players enlisted as spin doctors for the government, then no process will succeed. A key person in the government has said the motion represented politics of revenge. I would like to ask — “revenge against whom”? It is the obduracy of the system to ensure that there is no inquiry that makes the government’s motive political, and not the motive behind the motion. The charges against the Chief Justice of India (CJI) have nothing to do with politics. No person who appreciates the nature of the charges can allege that the motion has been moved for political considerations.

There was no politics of any political party behind the statement of four distinguished judges of the Supreme Court, who were obviously so frustrated with the goings on in Court that they considered it their constitutional duty to address the nation. The minister cannot possibly suggest that the judges had some ulterior motive except to ensure that the independence of the judiciary is preserved. They must have found it extremely uncomfortable to watch this government’s constant interference in judicial processes, which is why they publicly stated that if they did not speak out, future generations would have said they had sold their souls. The fact they went on to say that democracy is in peril suggested that the independence of the judiciary is in peril. Any member of the Cabinet analysing the sentiment behind these statements would understand that this had nothing to do with politics, but represented indignation at the brazen attempt of the government to influence the judiciary for their partisan ends. It is this government that is playing politics with the judiciary.

Now the charges.

First, in the case of Prasad Education Trust, a sitting judge of the high court is being prosecuted and along with him, a retired judge of the Odisha High Court and two others who conspired to bribe the judge. The taped conversations, a portion of the transcripts of which were placed on record with the motion, would make it clear to any reasonable person that the conspiracy was much wider and that if any government is committed to root out corruption from the judiciary, such government would welcome a probe to find out who all were involved in the conspiracy. The fact that this government does not want the probe speaks volumes of the intent behind this position.

Second, the extraordinary step of a Constitution Bench rising at 12 noon, knowing that in another court a matter was mentioned and was listed for hearing, to preempt the hearing.

Third, when the matter was called for hearing before that bench, an order that in the circumstances appears to have been antedated, informed the judge not to deal with the matter. Obviously, what is happening within the judicial system today is unprecedented. Such unsavoury goings on have not happened since our Republic was born. For a minister to brush aside such serious happenings and allege there are political motives behind the motion is, in fact, evidence of the extent to which the political process will go to ensure that the truth doesn’t emerge.

Fourth, that a false affidavit was filed to obtain allotment of land does not need any proof. The fact that the CJI surrendered the plot only in 2012 when elevated to the SC also does not need any further proof. How can a motion which seeks to delve into these matters be called political?

And last, that sensitive cases were sent to particular judges, which was also the refrain of the four judges addressing the press, was surely not the result of any politics by the Opposition. Therefore, the suggestion that the Opposition is playing politics is ex facie laughable. The truth is the government is playing politics to ensure that there is no inquiry that will embarrass the government.

The MPs who have signed the motion know that the motion, even if the charges are proved, may still be lost because the voting will be motivated by politics. One must be cognisant of the fact that there is no other way to deal with an errant judge except through such a motion. If we deny an inquiry, it will send a message to the entire judicial system that no matter what the charges against any judge, this government will save that judge. This is the unprincipled stand of persons who in Parliament have previously made speeches to the effect that the “premise of the utmost impartiality, free from aberrations, under which the institution of judiciary was created, is no longer available”. If the premise of impartiality is no longer available, then this government must explain why it is compromising with alleged misbehaviour.

It is this government that is diminishing the institution of the judiciary. We have seen recommendations blocked. We have seen a previous CJI lament of a “lock out” of the judiciary by refusing to accept recommendations of the collegium. We have seen a previous CJI breakdown, which was evidence of the attitude of this government towards ensuring that judges of their choice are appointed. It is better to stand on principles knowing that a motion may be defeated than play politics knowing the judicial system needs surgical attention. This is a wake-up call for the country.

Courtesy: This article is published in The Indian Express dated 26th April 2018

The writer is senior congress leader and MP from Rajya Sabha

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