Sunday, August 30, 2009

Russia deployed advanced anti-missile systems close to North Korean border, says reports

It is reported that Russia has deployed its advanced anti-missile systems close to the North Korean border. One of the blogpages citing an MSM report said that the Russian military has deployed its S-400 Triumf system in the Far East. Russia's Chief of the General Staff, Nikolai Makarov, has reportedly told reporters on a trip with President Dmitry Medvedev to Mongolia about the deployment.

The report noted that these systems were tasked to shoot down any missiles that could possibly drift into Russian territory from North Korea. This appeared a plausible situation given the fact that the Russian naval port of Vladivostok is just 93 miles away North Korea. Additionally, in 2006, one of the strayed North Korean missile had reportedly fallen into Russian waters near the port of Nakhoda.

However, there are analysts based in Moscow who are not convinced that Russia has placed these anti-missile systems in the Far East. In fact, Mikhail Barabanov, one of the Russian security analysts went on to suggest that either the General is engaged in a PR exercise or the reporters did not comprehend clearly what the General was saying.

If the Russian military has actually deployed these anti-missile systems to the North Korean borders, it may suggest that there is a sense of wariness and concern on the part of Russia about the North Korean missile- and nuclear-related activities, a similar position held by the US. However, the West does not appear convinced about such concerns on the part of Moscow. However, a more acceptable justification for them may be, if the deployment is linked to the US positioning of missile defence components in Eastern Europe or the US National Missile Defence system including interceptor missiles at Fort Greely, Alaska and Vanderbilt Air Force Base, California. There may be additional concerns on the Obama Administration's plans to set up missile defence bases in Israel and Turkey, and may be in the Balkans too, instead of Poland and the Czech Republic in the face of opposition from Russia. While Israel already hosts a mobile radar system at Negev Desert, one is not certain as to how Turkey will respond to the US proposal.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Obama and Sino-US Ties

Here's a story that Dr. Satish Misra has done on Obama and Sino-US ties, where he has taken views from several experts, including me. Does US-China relations affect India-US ties?

Experts say that, notwithstanding the ongoing debate, the global economic crisis has created a situation in which the Sino-US ties are bound to get a constructive push.

Since the election of Barack Obama as the US President in last November, there has been considerable debate on how Sino-US relations would shape up.

While meeting traditional allies in East Asia, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also made Beijing a port of call. Before leaving the Chinese capital, Ms Clinton set the tone for the relationship by stating that she was “encouraged by the possibilities of what a stronger relationship can mean for the Chinese and American people”.

The political battle between the ‘Red Team’—those who advocate stronger ties with People’s Republic of China (PRC)—and the ‘Blue Team’—those who wish to contain the regime in Beijing—continues unabated in the United States. But the global economic downturn seems to have given an edge to the former in the Obama Administration.

Experts say that, notwithstanding the ongoing debate, the global economic crisis has created a situation in which the Sino-US ties are bound to get a constructive push.

Affirming growing Sino-US ties, ORF Senior Fellow and US specialist Dr. Harinder Sekhon says that “there is a strong constituency within the United States that advocates the forging of close ties with China. They recognize that there is a strategic mistrust between the leaders but there is an urgent need to move beyond that and exercise what is now being termed as ‘smart power’ to reduce mutual tensions where leaders in both countries should adopt a broader and more practical approach to finding solutions to many of the global and bilateral issues that confront both the countries”.

“With the global meltdown having hit the US thoroughly,” says ORF Senior Fellow Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, “Obama’s view is that the US needs Chinese help in getting out of the economic mess. In February 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appealed to the Chinese government to continue buying US treasury bonds or be prepared for the fall of both economies.”

ORF Vice President Samir Saran, however, avers that “clearly a geo-economic moment (the financial crisis) is being used by certain sections of the American Polity to realign the mood and inclination of their citizenry in favour of engaging with China by overemphasizing on the financial imperatives to overcome issues of ‘freedom, liberty and human rights’ that have held back the bilateral relationship for so long”.

“The argument that Chinese investment in American Treasury has in any ways made
the US vulnerable (in relation to China) or dependent on it (China) is extremely simplistic” argues Mr. Saran, who sees the issue as “being played out in different ways in the US media. It is a classic case of ‘manufacturing consent’ and shaping public opinion for a geo-political objective”.

“On the contrary, the beneficiary of the investment, in this case the US will not only decide the fate (returns on the treasury bonds) but also can leverage this downturn to extract further investments in order to protect the Chinese investment” says Mr. Saran. The emphasis on economic ‘compulsions’ towards China is largely to conceal an underlying geopolitical realignment.

ORF Visiting Fellow Neil Padukone feels that the perception that the US is “kowtowing to China” is amplified by Indian fears. Mr. Padukone sees “Chinese exports and Treasury bonds ownership as just one part of US-China relationships, and US-China economic engagement as just one party of the overall financial recovery process.”

ORF Senior Fellow Nandan Unnikrishnan disagrees with the argument saying that the global meltdown has not pushed the US into Dragon’s lair.


Though Republican President Richard Nixon made the first step towards China, the Democratic Party is perceived to have a “tilt” towards China.

As Dr. Rajagopalan argues, “Democrats have generally tended to have a stronger partnership with China as compared to India. Democrats have sidelined issues such as democracy and human rights in its relationship with China. For instance, post-Tiananmen Square incidents, President George H.W. Bush had imposed sanctions, but by the time Clinton came into office, most of the sanctions were removed. In fact, President Clinton and President Jiang Zemin’s agreement in 1998 to “jointly manage South Asia” had angered India. It was President George W. Bush who managed to break that trend and establish a strategic partnership with India. Obama appears set to continue with Clinton’s pro-China policy.”

Mr. Padukone, however, confessing his “Democratic leanings,” contends that it is “difficult to make these sorts of generalizations. The ‘Red Team’ consists of both Democrats and Republicans that favor enhanced trade relations. Meanwhile, the ‘Blue Team,’ has members of both parties that find such engagement to be anathema for reasons of values (communism and human rights) as well as geopolitics.

“Moreover, different arms of the Executive Branch have different views of PRC, with the State Department pursuing diplomatic engagement, Treasury Department managing economic ties, while the Defense Department has remained wary of China since the late 1980s”, observes Mr. Padukone.

“Perhaps Clinton gave Democrats their reputation as ‘Panda Huggers’ with the disconnect between the 1992 campaign China-bashing in the wake of Tiananmen and Clinton’s enhanced trade with China. But even in the 1990s, the relationship was turbulent, with defense trade restrictions, the Taiwan Straits Crisis, and the Hainan Island incident. The George W. Bush administration, on the other hand, had a more laissez faire approach to relations with China, with some antagonism due to the primacy of Sec. Rumsfeld’s Department of Defense. At the same time, during Bush’s tenure, America’s twin deficits increased and America’s adversaries were dealt with through isolation—which ultimately benefited China, which owned a great deal of US debt and stepped into the political space with countries with which the US would not engage.”

“Most fundamentally, the United States as a whole does not have a coherent long-term China policy. Whether China will be a geopolitical rival or an economic partner remains unclear, with various factions of various parties and bureaucracies arguing various things. Even if China is both rival and partner, the paradox must be reconciled within a coherent strategy,” stresses Mr. Padukone.


Many accuse the US of sidestepping issues of freedom and human rights in order to push closer engagement with China. But Mr. Unnikrishnan partially agrees saying that “Not yet but it will.” If the pro-China sector has an upper hand in the ongoing debate, Mr. Unnikrishnan says the question whether they are winning is not relevant here, “but it appears rational for the Americans to want to reach accommodation with the second largest economy in the world, particularly one on which they have become dependent on.”

The first challenge, according to Dr. Sekhon, would be to cooperate to “advance mutual interests in a lasting economic recovery” by overcoming some of the irritants like trade issues, especially the trade imbalance between the two countries, placing human rights concerns on the backburner.

Mr. Padukone argues that while the Obama Administration may look beyond issues of human rights, “this may be part of a larger shift in diplomatic strategy. By engaging the governments of Iran, Sudan, Russia, China, possibly Myanmar and others, the Obama Administration is changing course in the way it deals with human rights and freedom in larger bilateral relations.

“The Administration’s view seems to be that American aims, both geo-strategic and political, will be served more effectively through proactive engagement than isolationism or confrontation,” points out the Visiting Fellow.

Mr. Padukone puts the whole debate on a wider canvas, saying that “in the wake of the Iraq and Afghan campaigns, diminished political capital globally, global recession that requires a reworking of a financial system that is based on a model of consumption that is largely supplied by China—the US needs to tread relatively carefully. Not to mention, a number of the geopolitical challenges that the United States faces— in Central Asia, the Middle East, Iran, Northeast Asia, and Africa—require multilateral approaches after years of failed unilateral methods. Given the political and economic leverages that China has in many of these areas (that other countries lack), a concerted effort with China may be necessary.


To a question about whether there is a substance in an argument that the US would like China to assume greater global influence and share in policing troubled regions such as Africa and the Indian Ocean, Mr. Unnikrishnan says that “the US will want it” and goes on to say that “they will do to the extent their strategic interests converge.”

Mr. Unnikrishnan dismisses the emergence of a G-2 (China and the US) in the conduct of international affairs as a “nightmare scenario”.

But Dr Sekhon views the question in a positive light saying, “A beginning seems to have been made where both nations have agreed to cooperate in the global fora on these issues.”

“But China’s increasing influence is in many ways inimical to US interests. If America is the “world’s sheriff,” a “deputy” with opposing worldviews and aims on human rights, proliferation, militarization, economics, resource acquisition, and so forth, is counter to US interests”, disagrees Mr. Padukone. “If the “other policeman” in the world were the UK, for example, there might be more credence to the argument.”

Rising Chinese influence in the Middle East and Africa “gives China access to energy resources that the US itself would rather control,” Mr. Padukone argues. “It diminishes any influence the United States would have in those countries: Iran or Burma remain unaffected by American sanctions because they can still trade with China; Sudan needn’t give up its military campaigns in Darfur, Southern Sudan, or Chad because Khartoum receives weapons, investment, and diplomatic support from Beijing.”

Dr. Rajagopalan agrees, arguing “the US will not like to see a more powerful China raising its influence beyond a certain point. On this issue, there could be agreement between the Democrats and the Republicans. Preventing the rise of regional hegemons—peer competitors—remains an objective common to both the Democrats and the Republicans. In fact, the 1992 formulation of the Defense Department remain an underlying principle in the US grand strategy. But China is also clear that its economic engagement with Washington is beneficial and it will continue. China appears to believe that American strategic presence in Asia is still necessary for stability in the region, as well as to prevent the rise of regional hegemons like Japan.”

Any shared policing, points out Mr. Padukone, “has more to do with China’s importance in global governance—in Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Pakistan, Myanmar, the economy, climate change—than with any notions of a ‘bilateral world police’.”


To bring this back to the Indian perspective, Dr. Rajagopalan argues that “India clearly does not want to see very close relations between the two countries as during the Clinton administration, where they wanted to jointly manage south Asia. On the other hand, we do not want to see them get into conflict situations, where India being a neighbor, may be forced to take sides. A serious US-China dispute will have wider security consequences throughout Asia and adversely affect India, too. While the two extremes should be avoided, there are increasing concerns about China and its rise, particularly on the military side.”

As for the prevailing view in India that the Obama Administration is ignoring India in favor of China, Mr. Padukone argues that, “if India isn’t necessary in global politics, then it can be ignored easily. India’s strategic culture remains reactive; it hasn’t made itself indispensable in global governance outside its own borders (and arguably Pakistan).”

“If India becomes pivotal in the resolution of global challenges, then neglecting India (to China’s benefit) will not be an option. But as of now, it is negligible, and there is no reason for American politicians to engage India rather than China.

Mr. Padukone argues that “Indian fears of the US ‘pandering to “the Panda”’ are exaggerated by (a) Indian hypersensitivities to Chinese strength, and more importantly, (b) displacement of blame: India needs to realize that to be treated like an important player, it must be one. India needs to get its own act together before it loses its voice complaining about the US and China.”

Friday, August 28, 2009

DPJ Coming to Power: How Does It Impact on the US-Japan Security Alliance?

Here's an anlysis on the weekend electios in Japan and how if the opposition party, DPJ comes into power, will affect US-Japan security alliance. The analysis first appeared on the ORF website.

Yukio Hatoyama, leader of the DPJ, who could become Japan’s next Prime Minister, has stated that he will ban US nuclear weapons from Japanese soil if the DPJ is elected. The DPJ is also reported to be developing a stance that is “more independent of the United States.” However, it is unlikely that Japan will shift policies radically even under the DPJ; Tokyo rather wait and watch the unfolding US policies under Obama and respond accordingly. The US-Japan security alliance will continue to be the cornerstone of its foreign and security policy, whether it is an LDP or DPJ government in power.

With the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) set to come to power following the weekend elections, the issue of US nuclear weapons on Japanese soil is in the news. Yukio Hatoyama, leader of the DPJ, who could become Japan’s next Prime Minister, has stated that he will ban US nuclear weapons from Japanese soil if the DPJ is elected. However, it is unlikely that Japan will shift policies radically even under the DPJ; Tokyo rather wait and watch the unfolding US policies under Obama and respond accordingly. The US-Japan security alliance will continue to be the cornerstone of its foreign and security policy, whether it is an LDP or DPJ government in power.
Hatoyama’s comments relate to the controversial and “secret” pact between US and Japan to allow the US to bring nuclear weapons into Japan even unannounced and without prior bilateral consultations. In his remarks on a television programme, Hatoyama is reported to have said that he will follow up the issue “with firm determination” with the Obama Administration, in getting a guarantee from President Barack Obama on not deploying American nuclear weapons on Japanese territory. Some documents declassified in 1999 showed that both the countries had reached an agreement in 1959 that would allow US warships and aircrafts carrying nuclear weapons to make a stop-over in Japan as also pass through Japanese air space and/or territorial waters even without prior consultation with Tokyo. These documents were reclassified immediately after the Japanese request to cancel the declassification, as these documents dealt with issues that are sensitive to Japan. The original US-Japan security Treaty was concluded in 1951 but it was the revised treaty of 1960 that included provisions for prior consultations on the issue of US bringing in nuclear weapons into Japan. However, nuclear-armed US warships and aircrafts passing through Japan was exempted from these consultations. This secret deal is in clear violation of the “three principles” that Japan has put in place, of not producing, possessing or allowing nuclear weapons to be brought into Japan. While this is not legally binding, there is significant opposition to nuclear weapons among the public. This is despite the fact there is a new sense of nationalism developing particularly among the younger generation. Some Japanese security analysts are reportedly of the view that this new nationalism could affect Japan significantly in the sense that they may not feel the need to be relying on the US for their security and be beholden to US objectives and principles. They may even result in questioning the need to continue with a pacifist constitution imposed upon them by the US. If that be the case, it could lead to an independent foreign and security policy, including the nuclear option.
The DPJ is also reported to be developing a stance that is “more independent of the United States.” The opposition party in fact has vowed to question the US on several foreign and security policies issues, while seeking to improve ties with countries like North Korea and China, which have been Japan’s traditional adversaries. While improving relations with Beijing and Pyongyang may be in the interests of Japan, distancing from the US may prove to be difficult. Japan, having been under the US security umbrella for the last fifty years, has not developed adequate military capability. While there is skepticism in the minds of Japanese policy makers and leaders about the reliability of the US as a credible partner, they believe the US security cover still remains the best option. Moving away from that cover may not prove to be a viable option, as several Japanese policy analysts have pointed out. However, if US power is in serious decline and if it is not able to provide extended deterrence, it could lead to some regional powers taking security on their shoulders rather than relying on the US. Second, given the kind of highly interdependent relationship between China and the US, especially in the current scenario of global economic crisis, Japanese security analysts wonder whether the US would provide that kind of security to Japan if there is a catastrophic attack on Japan from North Korea or China. A related but similar concern in Japan stems from the fact that closer Sino-US partnership could possibly widen the “gap between Tokyo’s and Washington’s security perspectives” and could weaken the US security commitment.
The DPJ has also been in clear opposition to the Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) policy of extending and widening the scope of Japanese military capability. In the post-Cold War era, particularly during the first War, Japan came under sharp criticism from the US that Tokyo was enjoying a free ride without taking any security roles or responsibilities. Following such critique, Japan began to assume larger politico-strategic and security roles by increasingly engaging power in ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), East Asia Summit (EAS) as well as sending its Self Defence Forces (SDFs) to distant theatres such as the Indian Ocean, Iraq, and the Gulf of Aden on anti-piracy missions. The LDP has continued to argue that these measures are necessary for strengthening the US-Japan security alliance. The DPJ, being in opposition, has continued to oppose these laws, including blocking one of the military missions. On the current agreement on extending refueling support to the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan, the DPJ has maintained that instead of withdrawing the support immediately, it will continue till the end of the term (December 2009).
While the DPJ may argue for peace and cooperation with North Korea and China, the reality of missile strikes or nuclear threats and the lack of transparency of the Chinese military programme will hit them once they are in power. It is possible that once they are in positions of power, these realities will force them to become more realistic and pragmatic. The question of nuclear weapons and a more assertive and independent foreign and security policy approach too is likely to be corrected after assuming power. It should be noted that the DPJ has hardly been in power, except for a brief period of 11 months in the mid-1990s. Serious geopolitical developments in the region such as a possible Korean reunification, although a distant possibility, too will have serious consequences for Japan. If re-unification of the Koreas takes place, another question that will gain immediate prominence will be whether that it would be a nuclear Korea. In such a scenario, distancing from the US may not be a realistic option for Japan. Instead, one may witness a further strengthening of the US-Japan alliance, irrespective of the fact whether a DPJ or an LDP government in power. In the years ahead, as the US power is seen to be gradually waning, Japan may have to shoulder more of its security responsibilities.

1 Emma Chanlett-Avery and Mary Beth Nikitin, “Japan’s Nuclear Future: Policy Debate, Prospects, and US Interests,” CRS Report for Congress, February 19, 2009, available at
2 Brad Glosserman, “Japan Peers into the Abyss,” PacNet Newsletter #20, March 20, 2008, cited in Emma Chanlett-Avery and Mary Beth Nikitin, “Japan’s Nuclear Future: Policy Debate, Prospects, and US Interests,” CRS Report for Congress, February 19, 2009, available at

Monday, August 24, 2009

Chinese intrusions into Sikkim yet again on the rise

While the India-China border talks are going on at the top level, PLA intrusions into Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) has been on the rise. What is the message that China is trying to signal to India?

NDTV 24x7 reported in its 8'o clock news broadcast reported fresh Chinese intrusions in all the three sectors -- Sikkim, Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. There were reportedly six incursions into the Finger Area (Sikkim) in the last two months as compared to six incursions in total in 2008.

Does China want to see a peaceful Asia in the future? There have been increasing concerns of a militarily strong China growing and what its impacts would be. Will it lead to a period of stability or one with destabilising consequences for the region? Rise of new powers have altered the security milieu historically. However, if the rising power indicates that its intentions are peaceful and defensive, essentially through its defence/military postures, this could reduce the suspicion and thereby help create a peaceful region. If the region has to march towards peace and stability, it may be worth the effort to see how China can be brought into the camp through CBMs, particularly in the military-security arena.

In May 2008, China had begun to make fresh claims on Sikkim, otherwise a peaceful sector on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that divides India and China. Sikkim is a state in the north-eastern part of India, bordering China, which acceded to India in 1975. China lays claims to the northernmost tip of Sikkim that appears on the map like a protruding finger and thus termed Finger Area. It contains some stone cairns or heaps of stones that demarcate the India-China border. However, China has continued to state that it will demolish those cairns as the current mapping is not entirely correct and is based on the 1924 Survey of India. The current border controversy started last year when PLA (Peoples Liberation Army) troops began frequenting the area and constructed a road that crossed the Finger Area. Although India protested such moves in February 2008, the Chinese have continued assert their claims and have succeeded in introducing the issue as an agenda in the boundary talks between the two countries. It should be noted that the recent Chinese assertions on Sikkim along with the 2008 claims form part of its larger objective of claiming the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh. Thus, it is only a symptom of the larger Chinese disease of territorial expansion.

China has been trying to activate the Sikkim card as a bargain for its larger claim on the state of Arunachal Pradesh, and more particularly Tawang. China has been trying to adopt various measures to put pressure on India so as to get major leverage from India on the boundary issue. For instance, the Chinese border incursions have been on an increase. There were nearly 200 border intrusions in all three sectors in 2007, although most of the intrusions have taken place in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. Border incursions into all sectors, including Sikkim have recently gone up significantly. While the numbers may not critical, it still demonstrates changed Chinese attitude towards India. The Chinese incursions are also getting deeper into Indian territory than before. Despite India’s stationing of more than 40,000 troops in the state of Sikkim, its policy and posturing have continued to be, by and large, defensive.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Women's Empowerment: What and How

Here's an NYT story on the plight of women. The article brings out the point that I have always believed in, i.e., economic independence is a key factor for womens' empowerment. Economic independence does make a lot of difference in the way a man treats a woman, the society treats her, and last of all, the woman will respect herself. For a married woman, her in-laws will treat her differently if she is a career woman, or at least has some job, in which she could be on her own financially. A woman should be able to stand on her feet and not depend on the man, even if all is well.

The article does a kind of case study of several countries including Pakistan. for instance, the article highlights initiatives by Kashf Foundation, a Pakistani microfinance organization that lends tiny amounts of money to poor women to start businesses. Kashf is typical of microfinance institutions, in that it lends almost exclusively to women, in groups of 25.

August 23, 2009
The Women’s Crusade
IN THE 19TH CENTURY, the paramount moral challenge was slavery. In the 20th century, it was totalitarianism. In this century, it is the brutality inflicted on so many women and girls around the globe: sex trafficking, acid attacks, bride burnings and mass rape.

Yet if the injustices that women in poor countries suffer are of paramount importance, in an economic and geopolitical sense the opportunity they represent is even greater. “Women hold up half the sky,” in the words of a Chinese saying, yet that’s mostly an aspiration: in a large slice of the world, girls are uneducated and women marginalized, and it’s not an accident that those same countries are disproportionately mired in poverty and riven by fundamentalism and chaos. There’s a growing recognition among everyone from the World Bank to the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to aid organizations like CARE that focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism. That’s why foreign aid is increasingly directed to women. The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution.

One place to observe this alchemy of gender is in the muddy back alleys of Pakistan. In a slum outside the grand old city of Lahore, a woman named Saima Muhammad used to dissolve into tears every evening. A round-faced woman with thick black hair tucked into a head scarf, Saima had barely a rupee, and her deadbeat husband was unemployed and not particularly employable. He was frustrated and angry, and he coped by beating Saima each afternoon. Their house was falling apart, and Saima had to send her young daughter to live with an aunt, because there wasn’t enough food to go around.

“My sister-in-law made fun of me, saying, ‘You can’t even feed your children,’ ” recalled Saima when Nick met her two years ago on a trip to Pakistan. “My husband beat me up. My brother-in-law beat me up. I had an awful life.” Saima’s husband accumulated a debt of more than $3,000, and it seemed that these loans would hang over the family for generations. Then when Saima’s second child was born and turned out to be a girl as well, her mother-in-law, a harsh, blunt woman named Sharifa Bibi, raised the stakes.

“She’s not going to have a son,” Sharifa told Saima’s husband, in front of her. “So you should marry again. Take a second wife.” Saima was shattered and ran off sobbing. Another wife would leave even less money to feed and educate the children. And Saima herself would be marginalized in the household, cast off like an old sock. For days Saima walked around in a daze, her eyes red; the slightest incident would send her collapsing into hysterical tears.

It was at that point that Saima signed up with the Kashf Foundation, a Pakistani microfinance organization that lends tiny amounts of money to poor women to start businesses. Kashf is typical of microfinance institutions, in that it lends almost exclusively to women, in groups of 25. The women guarantee one another’s debts and meet every two weeks to make payments and discuss a social issue, like family planning or schooling for girls. A Pakistani woman is often forbidden to leave the house without her husband’s permission, but husbands tolerate these meetings because the women return with cash and investment ideas.

Saima took out a $65 loan and used the money to buy beads and cloth, which she transformed into beautiful embroidery that she then sold to merchants in the markets of Lahore. She used the profit to buy more beads and cloth, and soon she had an embroidery business and was earning a solid income — the only one in her household to do so. Saima took her elder daughter back from the aunt and began paying off her husband’s debt.

When merchants requested more embroidery than Saima could produce, she paid neighbors to assist her. Eventually 30 families were working for her, and she put her husband to work as well — “under my direction,” she explained with a twinkle in her eye. Saima became the tycoon of the neighborhood, and she was able to pay off her husband’s entire debt, keep her daughters in school, renovate the house, connect running water and buy a television.

“Now everyone comes to me to borrow money, the same ones who used to criticize me,” Saima said, beaming in satisfaction. “And the children of those who used to criticize me now come to my house to watch TV.”

Today, Saima is a bit plump and displays a gold nose ring as well as several other rings and bracelets on each wrist. She exudes self-confidence as she offers a grand tour of her home and work area, ostentatiously showing off the television and the new plumbing. She doesn’t even pretend to be subordinate to her husband. He spends his days mostly loafing around, occasionally helping with the work but always having to accept orders from his wife. He has become more impressed with females in general: Saima had a third child, also a girl, but now that’s not a problem. “Girls are just as good as boys,” he explained.

Saima’s new prosperity has transformed the family’s educational prospects. She is planning to send all three of her daughters through high school and maybe to college as well. She brings in tutors to improve their schoolwork, and her oldest child, Javaria, is ranked first in her class. We asked Javaria what she wanted to be when she grew up, thinking she might aspire to be a doctor or lawyer. Javaria cocked her head. “I’d like to do embroidery,” she said.

As for her husband, Saima said, “We have a good relationship now.” She explained, “We don’t fight, and he treats me well.” And what about finding another wife who might bear him a son? Saima chuckled at the question: “Now nobody says anything about that.” Sharifa Bibi, the mother-in-law, looked shocked when we asked whether she wanted her son to take a second wife to bear a son. “No, no,” she said. “Saima is bringing so much to this house. . . . She puts a roof over our heads and food on the table.”

Sharifa even allows that Saima is now largely exempt from beatings by her husband. “A woman should know her limits, and if not, then it’s her husband’s right to beat her,” Sharifa said. “But if a woman earns more than her husband, it’s difficult for him to discipline her.”

WHAT SHOULD we make of stories like Saima’s? Traditionally, the status of women was seen as a “soft” issue — worthy but marginal. We initially reflected that view ourselves in our work as journalists. We preferred to focus instead on the “serious” international issues, like trade disputes or arms proliferation. Our awakening came in China.

After we married in 1988, we moved to Beijing to be correspondents for The New York Times. Seven months later we found ourselves standing on the edge of Tiananmen Square watching troops fire their automatic weapons at prodemocracy protesters. The massacre claimed between 400 and 800 lives and transfixed the world; wrenching images of the killings appeared constantly on the front page and on television screens.

Yet the following year we came across an obscure but meticulous demographic study that outlined a human rights violation that had claimed tens of thousands more lives. This study found that 39,000 baby girls died annually in China because parents didn’t give them the same medical care and attention that boys received — and that was just in the first year of life. A result is that as many infant girls died unnecessarily every week in China as protesters died at Tiananmen Square. Those Chinese girls never received a column inch of news coverage, and we began to wonder if our journalistic priorities were skewed.

A similar pattern emerged in other countries. In India, a “bride burning” takes place approximately once every two hours, to punish a woman for an inadequate dowry or to eliminate her so a man can remarry — but these rarely constitute news. When a prominent dissident was arrested in China, we would write a front-page article; when 100,000 girls were kidnapped and trafficked into brothels, we didn’t even consider it news.

Amartya Sen, the ebullient Nobel Prize-winning economist, developed a gauge of gender inequality that is a striking reminder of the stakes involved. “More than 100 million women are missing,” Sen wrote in a classic essay in 1990 in The New York Review of Books, spurring a new field of research. Sen noted that in normal circumstances, women live longer than men, and so there are more females than males in much of the world. Yet in places where girls have a deeply unequal status, they vanish. China has 107 males for every 100 females in its overall population (and an even greater disproportion among newborns), and India has 108. The implication of the sex ratios, Sen later found, is that about 107 million females are missing from the globe today. Follow-up studies have calculated the number slightly differently, deriving alternative figures for “missing women” of between 60 million and 107 million.

Girls vanish partly because they don’t get the same health care and food as boys. In India, for example, girls are less likely to be vaccinated than boys and are taken to the hospital only when they are sicker. A result is that girls in India from 1 to 5 years of age are 50 percent more likely to die than boys their age. In addition, ultrasound machines have allowed a pregnant woman to find out the sex of her fetus — and then get an abortion if it is female.

The global statistics on the abuse of girls are numbing. It appears that more girls and women are now missing from the planet, precisely because they are female, than men were killed on the battlefield in all the wars of the 20th century. The number of victims of this routine “gendercide” far exceeds the number of people who were slaughtered in all the genocides of the 20th century.

For those women who live, mistreatment is sometimes shockingly brutal. If you’re reading this article, the phrase “gender discrimination” might conjure thoughts of unequal pay, underfinanced sports teams or unwanted touching from a boss. In the developing world, meanwhile, millions of women and girls are actually enslaved. While a precise number is hard to pin down, the International Labor Organization, a U.N. agency, estimates that at any one time there are 12.3 million people engaged in forced labor of all kinds, including sexual servitude. In Asia alone about one million children working in the sex trade are held in conditions indistinguishable from slavery, according to a U.N. report. Girls and women are locked in brothels and beaten if they resist, fed just enough to be kept alive and often sedated with drugs — to pacify them and often to cultivate addiction. India probably has more modern slaves than any other country.

Another huge burden for women in poor countries is maternal mortality, with one woman dying in childbirth around the world every minute. In the West African country Niger, a woman stands a one-in-seven chance of dying in childbirth at some point in her life. (These statistics are all somewhat dubious, because maternal mortality isn’t considered significant enough to require good data collection.) For all of India’s shiny new high-rises, a woman there still has a 1-in-70 lifetime chance of dying in childbirth. In contrast, the lifetime risk in the United States is 1 in 4,800; in Ireland, it is 1 in 47,600. The reason for the gap is not that we don’t know how to save lives of women in poor countries. It’s simply that poor, uneducated women in Africa and Asia have never been a priority either in their own countries or to donor nations.

ABBAS BE, A BEAUTIFUL teenage girl in the Indian city of Hyderabad, has chocolate skin, black hair and gleaming white teeth — and a lovely smile, which made her all the more marketable.

Money was tight in her family, so when she was about 14 she arranged to take a job as a maid in the capital, New Delhi. Instead, she was locked up in a brothel, beaten with a cricket bat, gang-raped and told that she would have to cater to customers. Three days after she arrived, Abbas and all 70 girls in the brothel were made to gather round and watch as the pimps made an example of one teenage girl who had fought customers. The troublesome girl was stripped naked, hogtied, humiliated and mocked, beaten savagely and then stabbed in the stomach until she bled to death in front of Abbas and the others.

Abbas was never paid for her work. Any sign of dissatisfaction led to a beating or worse; two more times, she watched girls murdered by the brothel managers for resisting. Eventually Abbas was freed by police and taken back to Hyderabad. She found a home in a shelter run by Prajwala, an organization that takes in girls rescued from brothels and teaches them new skills. Abbas is acquiring an education and has learned to be a bookbinder; she also counsels other girls about how to avoid being trafficked. As a skilled bookbinder, Abbas is able to earn a decent living, and she is now helping to put her younger sisters through school as well. With an education, they will be far less vulnerable to being trafficked. Abbas has moved from being a slave to being a producer, contributing to India’s economic development and helping raise her family.

Perhaps the lesson presented by both Abbas and Saima is the same: In many poor countries, the greatest unexploited resource isn’t oil fields or veins of gold; it is the women and girls who aren’t educated and never become a major presence in the formal economy. With education and with help starting businesses, impoverished women can earn money and support their countries as well as their families. They represent perhaps the best hope for fighting global poverty.

In East Asia, as we saw in our years of reporting there, women have already benefited from deep social changes. In countries like South Korea and Malaysia, China and Thailand, rural girls who previously contributed negligibly to the economy have gone to school and received educations, giving them the autonomy to move to the city to hold factory jobs. This hugely increased the formal labor force; when the women then delayed childbearing, there was a demographic dividend to the country as well. In the 1990s, by our estimations, some 80 percent of the employees on the assembly lines in coastal China were female, and the proportion across the manufacturing belt of East Asia was at least 70 percent.

The hours were long and the conditions wretched, just as in the sweatshops of the Industrial Revolution in the West. But peasant women were making money, sending it back home and sometimes becoming the breadwinners in their families. They gained new skills that elevated their status. Westerners encounter sweatshops and see exploitation, and indeed, many of these plants are just as bad as critics say. But it’s sometimes said in poor countries that the only thing worse than being exploited in a sweatshop is not being exploited in a sweatshop. Low-wage manufacturing jobs disproportionately benefited women in countries like China because these were jobs for which brute physical force was not necessary and women’s nimbleness gave them an advantage over men — which was not the case with agricultural labor or construction or other jobs typically available in poor countries. Strange as it may seem, sweatshops in Asia had the effect of empowering women. One hundred years ago, many women in China were still having their feet bound. Today, while discrimination and inequality and harassment persist, the culture has been transformed. In the major cities, we’ve found that Chinese men often do more domestic chores than American men typically do. And urban parents are often not only happy with an only daughter; they may even prefer one, under the belief that daughters are better than sons at looking after aging parents.

WHY DO MICROFINANCE organizations usually focus their assistance on women? And why does everyone benefit when women enter the work force and bring home regular pay checks? One reason involves the dirty little secret of global poverty: some of the most wretched suffering is caused not just by low incomes but also by unwise spending by the poor — especially by men. Surprisingly frequently, we’ve come across a mother mourning a child who has just died of malaria for want of a $5 mosquito bed net; the mother says that the family couldn’t afford a bed net and she means it, but then we find the father at a nearby bar. He goes three evenings a week to the bar, spending $5 each week.

Our interviews and perusal of the data available suggest that the poorest families in the world spend approximately 10 times as much (20 percent of their incomes on average) on a combination of alcohol, prostitution, candy, sugary drinks and lavish feasts as they do on educating their children (2 percent). If poor families spent only as much on educating their children as they do on beer and prostitutes, there would be a breakthrough in the prospects of poor countries. Girls, since they are the ones kept home from school now, would be the biggest beneficiaries. Moreover, one way to reallocate family expenditures in this way is to put more money in the hands of women. A series of studies has found that when women hold assets or gain incomes, family money is more likely to be spent on nutrition, medicine and housing, and consequently children are healthier.

In Ivory Coast, one research project examined the different crops that men and women grow for their private kitties: men grow coffee, cocoa and pineapple, and women grow plantains, bananas, coconuts and vegetables. Some years the “men’s crops” have good harvests and the men are flush with cash, and other years it is the women who prosper. Money is to some extent shared. But even so, the economist Esther Duflo of M.I.T. found that when the men’s crops flourish, the household spends more money on alcohol and tobacco. When the women have a good crop, the households spend more money on food. “When women command greater power, child health and nutrition improves,” Duflo says.

Such research has concrete implications: for example, donor countries should nudge poor countries to adjust their laws so that when a man dies, his property is passed on to his widow rather than to his brothers. Governments should make it easy for women to hold property and bank accounts — 1 percent of the world’s landowners are women — and they should make it much easier for microfinance institutions to start banks so that women can save money.

OF COURSE, IT’S FAIR to ask: empowering women is well and good, but can one do this effectively? Does foreign aid really work? William Easterly, an economist at New York University, has argued powerfully that shoveling money at poor countries accomplishes little. Some Africans, including Dambisa Moyo, author of “Dead Aid,” have said the same thing. The critics note that there has been no correlation between amounts of aid going to countries and their economic growth rates.

Our take is that, frankly, there is something to these criticisms. Helping people is far harder than it looks. Aid experiments often go awry, or small successes turn out to be difficult to replicate or scale up. Yet we’ve also seen, anecdotally and in the statistics, evidence that some kinds of aid have been enormously effective. The delivery of vaccinations and other kinds of health care has reduced the number of children who die every year before they reach the age of 5 to less than 10 million today from 20 million in 1960.

In general, aid appears to work best when it is focused on health, education and microfinance (although microfinance has been somewhat less successful in Africa than in Asia). And in each case, crucially, aid has often been most effective when aimed at women and girls; when policy wonks do the math, they often find that these investments have a net economic return. Only a small proportion of aid specifically targets women or girls, but increasingly donors are recognizing that that is where they often get the most bang for the buck.

In the early 1990s, the United Nations and the World Bank began to proclaim the potential resource that women and girls represent. “Investment in girls’ education may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world,” Larry Summers wrote when he was chief economist of the World Bank. Private aid groups and foundations shifted gears as well. “Women are the key to ending hunger in Africa,” declared the Hunger Project. The Center for Global Development issued a major report explaining “why and how to put girls at the center of development.” CARE took women and girls as the centerpiece of its anti-poverty efforts. “Gender inequality hurts economic growth,” Goldman Sachs concluded in a 2008 research report that emphasized how much developing countries could improve their economic performance by educating girls.

Bill Gates recalls once being invited to speak in Saudi Arabia and finding himself facing a segregated audience. Four-fifths of the listeners were men, on the left. The remaining one-fifth were women, all covered in black cloaks and veils, on the right. A partition separated the two groups. Toward the end, in the question-and-answer session, a member of the audience noted that Saudi Arabia aimed to be one of the Top 10 countries in the world in technology by 2010 and asked if that was realistic. “Well, if you’re not fully utilizing half the talent in the country,” Gates said, “you’re not going to get too close to the Top 10.” The small group on the right erupted in wild cheering.

Policy makers have gotten the message as well. President Obama has appointed a new White House Council on Women and Girls. Perhaps he was indoctrinated by his mother, who was one of the early adopters of microloans to women when she worked to fight poverty in Indonesia. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is a member of the White House Council, and she has also selected a talented activist, Melanne Verveer, to direct a new State Department Office of Global Women’s Issues. On Capitol Hill, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has put Senator Barbara Boxer in charge of a new subcommittee that deals with women’s issues.

Yet another reason to educate and empower women is that greater female involvement in society and the economy appears to undermine extremism and terrorism. It has long been known that a risk factor for turbulence and violence is the share of a country’s population made up of young people. Now it is emerging that male domination of society is also a risk factor; the reasons aren’t fully understood, but it may be that when women are marginalized the nation takes on the testosterone-laden culture of a military camp or a high-school boys’ locker room. That’s in part why the Joint Chiefs of Staff and international security specialists are puzzling over how to increase girls’ education in countries like Afghanistan — and why generals have gotten briefings from Greg Mortenson, who wrote about building girls’ schools in his best seller, “Three Cups of Tea.” Indeed, some scholars say they believe the reason Muslim countries have been disproportionately afflicted by terrorism is not Islamic teachings about infidels or violence but rather the low levels of female education and participation in the labor force.

SO WHAT WOULD an agenda for fighting poverty through helping women look like? You might begin with the education of girls — which doesn’t just mean building schools. There are other innovative means at our disposal. A study in Kenya by Michael Kremer, a Harvard economist, examined six different approaches to improving educational performance, from providing free textbooks to child-sponsorship programs. The approach that raised student test scores the most was to offer girls who had scored in the top 15 percent of their class on sixth-grade tests a $19 scholarship for seventh and eighth grade (and the glory of recognition at an assembly). Boys also performed better, apparently because they were pushed by the girls or didn’t want to endure the embarrassment of being left behind.

Another Kenyan study found that giving girls a new $6 school uniform every 18 months significantly reduced dropout rates and pregnancy rates. Likewise, there’s growing evidence that a cheap way to help keep high-school girls in school is to help them manage menstruation. For fear of embarrassing leaks and stains, girls sometimes stay home during their periods, and the absenteeism puts them behind and eventually leads them to drop out. Aid workers are experimenting with giving African teenage girls sanitary pads, along with access to a toilet where they can change them. The Campaign for Female Education, an organization devoted to getting more girls into school in Africa, helps girls with their periods, and a new group, Sustainable Health Enterprises, is trying to do the same.

And so, if President Obama wanted to adopt a foreign-aid policy that built on insights into the role of women in development, he would do well to start with education. We would suggest a $10 billion effort over five years to educate girls around the world. This initiative would focus on Africa but would also support — and prod — Asian countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan to do better. This plan would also double as population policy, for it would significantly reduce birthrates — and thus help poor countries overcome the demographic obstacles to economic growth.

But President Obama might consider two different proposals as well. We would recommend that the United States sponsor a global drive to eliminate iodine deficiency around the globe, by helping countries iodize salt. About a third of households in the developing world do not get enough iodine, and a result is often an impairment in brain formation in the fetal stages. For reasons that are unclear, this particularly affects female fetuses and typically costs children 10 to 15 I.Q. points. Research by Erica Field of Harvard found that daughters of women given iodine performed markedly better in school. Other research suggests that salt iodization would yield benefits worth nine times the cost.

We would also recommend that the United States announce a 12-year, $1.6 billion program to eradicate obstetric fistula, a childbirth injury that is one of the worst scourges of women in the developing world. An obstetric fistula, which is a hole created inside the body by a difficult childbirth, leaves a woman incontinent, smelly, often crippled and shunned by her village — yet it can be repaired for a few hundred dollars. Dr. Lewis Wall, president of the Worldwide Fistula Fund, and Michael Horowitz, a conservative agitator on humanitarian issues, have drafted the 12-year plan — and it’s eminently practical and built on proven methods. Evidence that fistulas can be prevented or repaired comes from impoverished Somaliland, a northern enclave of Somalia, where an extraordinary nurse-midwife named Edna Adan has built her own maternity hospital to save the lives of the women around her. A former first lady of Somalia and World Health Organization official, Adan used her savings to build the hospital, which is supported by a group of admirers in the U.S. who call themselves Friends of Edna Maternity Hospital.

For all the legitimate concerns about how well humanitarian aid is spent, investments in education, iodizing salt and maternal health all have a proven record of success. And the sums are modest: all three components of our plan together amount to about what the U.S. has provided Pakistan since 9/11 — a sum that accomplished virtually nothing worthwhile either for Pakistanis or for Americans.

ONE OF THE MANY aid groups that for pragmatic reasons has increasingly focused on women is Heifer International, a charitable organization based in Arkansas that has been around for decades. The organization gives cows, goats and chickens to farmers in poor countries. On assuming the presidency of Heifer in 1992, the activist Jo Luck traveled to Africa, where one day she found herself sitting on the ground with a group of young women in a Zimbabwean village. One of them was Tererai Trent.

Tererai is a long-faced woman with high cheekbones and a medium brown complexion; she has a high forehead and tight cornrows. Like many women around the world, she doesn’t know when she was born and has no documentation of her birth. As a child, Tererai didn’t get much formal education, partly because she was a girl and was expected to do household chores. She herded cattle and looked after her younger siblings. Her father would say, Let’s send our sons to school, because they will be the breadwinners. Tererai’s brother, Tinashe, was forced to go to school, where he was an indifferent student. Tererai pleaded to be allowed to attend but wasn’t permitted to do so. Tinashe brought his books home each afternoon, and Tererai pored over them and taught herself to read and write. Soon she was doing her brother’s homework every evening.

The teacher grew puzzled, for Tinashe was a poor student in class but always handed in exemplary homework. Finally, the teacher noticed that the handwriting was different for homework and for class assignments and whipped Tinashe until he confessed the truth. Then the teacher went to the father, told him that Tererai was a prodigy and begged that she be allowed to attend school. After much argument, the father allowed Tererai to attend school for a couple of terms, but then married her off at about age 11.

Tererai’s husband barred her from attending school, resented her literacy and beat her whenever she tried to practice her reading by looking at a scrap of old newspaper. Indeed, he beat her for plenty more as well. She hated her marriage but had no way out. “If you’re a woman and you are not educated, what else?” she asks.

Yet when Jo Luck came and talked to Tererai and other young women in her village, Luck kept insisting that things did not have to be this way. She kept saying that they could achieve their goals, repeatedly using the word “achievable.” The women caught the repetition and asked the interpreter to explain in detail what “achievable” meant. That gave Luck a chance to push forward. “What are your hopes?” she asked the women, through the interpreter. Tererai and the others were puzzled by the question, because they didn’t really have any hopes. But Luck pushed them to think about their dreams, and reluctantly, they began to think about what they wanted.

Tererai timidly voiced hope of getting an education. Luck pounced and told her that she could do it, that she should write down her goals and methodically pursue them. After Luck and her entourage disappeared, Tererai began to study on her own, in hiding from her husband, while raising her five children. Painstakingly, with the help of friends, she wrote down her goals on a piece of paper: “One day I will go to the United States of America,” she began, for Goal 1. She added that she would earn a college degree, a master’s degree and a Ph.D. — all exquisitely absurd dreams for a married cattle herder in Zimbabwe who had less than one year’s formal education. But Tererai took the piece of paper and folded it inside three layers of plastic to protect it, and then placed it in an old can. She buried the can under a rock where she herded cattle.

Then Tererai took correspondence classes and began saving money. Her self-confidence grew as she did brilliantly in her studies, and she became a community organizer for Heifer. She stunned everyone with superb schoolwork, and the Heifer aid workers encouraged her to think that she could study in America. One day in 1998, she received notice that she had been admitted to Oklahoma State University.

Some of the neighbors thought that a woman should focus on educating her children, not herself. “I can’t talk about my children’s education when I’m not educated myself,” Tererai responded. “If I educate myself, then I can educate my children.” So she climbed into an airplane and flew to America.

At Oklahoma State, Tererai took every credit she could and worked nights to make money. She earned her undergraduate degree, brought her five children to America and started her master’s, then returned to her village. She dug up the tin can under the rock and took out the paper on which she had scribbled her goals. She put check marks beside the goals she had fulfilled and buried the tin can again.

In Arkansas, she took a job working for Heifer — while simultaneously earning a master’s degree part time. When she had her M.A., Tererai again returned to her village. After embracing her mother and sister, she dug up her tin can and checked off her next goal. Now she is working on her Ph.D. at Western Michigan University.

Tererai has completed her course work and is completing a dissertation about AIDS programs among the poor in Africa. She will become a productive economic asset for Africa and a significant figure in the battle against AIDS. And when she has her doctorate, Tererai will go back to her village and, after hugging her loved ones, go out to the field and dig up her can again.

There are many metaphors for the role of foreign assistance. For our part, we like to think of aid as a kind of lubricant, a few drops of oil in the crankcase of the developing world, so that gears move freely again on their own. That is what the assistance to Tererai amounted to: a bit of help where and when it counts most, which often means focusing on women like her. And now Tererai is gliding along freely on her own — truly able to hold up half the sky.

Nicholas D. Kristof is a New York Times Op-Ed columnist and Sheryl WuDunn is a former Times correspondent who works in finance and philanthropy. This essay is adapted from their book “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” which will be published next month by Alfred A. Knopf. You can learn more about “Half the Sky” at

Monday, August 17, 2009

Indo-US End-Use Monitoring Agreement (EUMA): Advantage or Disadvantage

Here's a story Dr. Satish Misra has done on the Indo-US EUMA, where he has taken opinions from various scholars at Observer Research Foundation including mine.

The opposition to the End-Use Monitoring Agreement (EUMA), concluded between India and the United States during US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit last month, has been more or less on expected lines with the opposition parties accusing the Congress-led UPA government of compromising the “sovereignty” and surrendering the vital national interests to the Americans and the ruling combine defending it on grounds of a long-felt need to “diversify” the sources of country’s defence procurement.

Much of the debate also stems from lack of availability of the full text of the EUMA in the public domain which has led to a degree of uninformed articulation by experts as well.

“The EUMA has received contrasting reactions from members of the Indian strategic community because in absence of a declared text, it is difficult to assess the net worth of this agreement,” says Senior Fellow Deba Ranjan Mohanty who has been studying the Indian defence industry over a decade.

In absence of a declared text of the EUMA, the agreement is prone to all kind of interpretations, points out Mr. Mohanty and adds that “while a section of the experts like former Indian Air Force chief Krishnaswamy have criticised or shown reservation towards the agreement, there are others like former Defence Secretary K Subrahmanyam have supported the EUMA.

The opposition to the EUMA is essentially “political”, says ORF Senior Fellow Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan. “Possibly, one can see a point in the Left parties opposition to the EUMA as these parties have always been ideologically opposed to the US and anything which India does with the US, opposition is expected from these quarters”, she points out reminding of the Left’s withdrawal of the support to the UPA government on the issue of Indo-US Nuclear deal.

“But the Bharatiya Janata Party’s opposition to the EUMA is not understandable. If it was in power, it would have concluded a similar agreement”, says Dr Rajagopalan who has been working on “US Military Strategy”.

Till now, the EUMA was applicable on case-to-case basis as and when India bought defence equipment from the US, the agreement, signed during Ms Clinton’s visit, would cover all future defence deals.

Mr. Mohanty says “the EUMA is both good and bad” and lot would depend on how this is put in practice. “On the positive side, this opens up a flow of high tech systems from the US to India. Even if the supplier has a right to sell what it wants to, there is enough scope for India to benefit from flow of technology”.

“This in turn is likely to help the Indian domestic military industrial complex which is being opened up for private participation. The EUMA may contribute to develop private sector into the role of system integrators”, asserts Mr. Mohanty.The whole issue has to be seen in the context of India’s decision to “diversify” its sources of arms procurement, says Senior Fellow Nandan Unnikrishnan.

Mr. Unnikrishnan, who is Euroasia expert at the ORF, says that if the decision has to be implemented then the US figures prominently as one of the sources of defence procurement and India cannot bypass the requirement of EUMA.“ It is a standard requirement for the US companies to be able to sell to any country. If India decided to buy the US military hardware, then it has to sign the EUMA”, says Mr. Unnikrishnan in response to a question whether it is “compulsory”.

On the negative side, the EUMA is designed to preserve the US technology supremacy. Any defence equipment, procured from the US, cannot be used against any of the US allies including Pakistan, points our Mr. Mohanty and adds that in case of a breach of the agreement, the US has the right to withdraw all products and support systems from the recipient country.

Another negative feature is the “birth to death” clause of the EUMA which not only limits the recipient’s necessity to modify any system to suit its operational requirements but also prohibits further innovation, points out Mr. Mohanty saying that it is a “highly restrictive” agreement.

Per say, it need not to be negative to India’s security so long there is no restriction attached to the usage of the equipment to defend India’s interests, says Mr. Unnikrishnan who has studied India-Russia defence relationship closely. Referring to the opposition to the EUMA, Mr. Unnikrishnan avers that this is “new element” to Indian political domain which disturbs “status-quo”. There has been an expression of “concerns” and it is for the Government to ensure that India’s interests are not “compromised”.

To a question if the EUMA compromises Indian “sovereignty”, Dr Rajagopalan says that even after the signing of the agreement, the decision to buy the US military hardware and high-end defence equipment would still vest with New Delhi. Moreover, such agreements have an element of universality. When India sells any military system or equipment to any country, “we also insist on EUMA like agreements”, says Dr Rajagopalan.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

How does India manage its strategic relations with the US and Russia?

India appears to be forging strategic partnerships with US, Russia, Israel, Japan, South Africa, the EU and so on. Is India clear as to what it means by this strategic partnership? Sandeep Dikshit of Hindu reported that during a recent Parliament debate, on a question on India's strategic relations with the US and Russia, the government avoided any attempt at juxtaposition and spelt out its policy for both the countries separately.

The reply said the government not only wanted to “strengthen and deepen” the relationship with the U.S. in ongoing areas of bilateral cooperation but also identify newer areas to take bilateral ties to a “higher level of engagement.” It also sought intensified engagement with the U.S. on global issues such as climate change, disarmament, international terrorism and maritime security to “strengthen India-U.S. strategic partnership.”

Russia is described as strategic partner with the decades-long association providing a “solid framework” for long-term and all-round development of relations. During the coming high-level interactions, the government hopes to hold discussions with the Russian leadership on all strategic areas of bilateral cooperation such as defence, space, energy, science and technology and trade & economy.

India is scheduled to hold high-level engagements with both countries this year. President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Defence Minister A.K. Antony are all scheduled to visit Russia this year. Dr. Singh will also go to the U.S. in November while Mr. Krishna will review the progress of the recast strategic dialogue with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington. With the U.S. keen on closer intelligence sharing and supplying modern communications and surveillance equipment to India, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram has a pending invitation to visit Washington.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Split India,says Chinese strategist

Zhan Lue of the Chinese government-funded think-tank, China International Institute for Strategic Studies says Beijing should join forces with different nationalities like Assamese, Tamils, and Kashmiris and support the latter in establishing independent nation-states of their own, out of India, for its own interest as also for the progress of Asia.

Should India have a panicked response to this writing? No. However, India cannot ignore such sentiments for two reasons. First of all, such expressions are being quite frequent. Second, CIISS being a government-funded think-tank, one can be reasonably certain that these expressions do have the government backing.

Here's D.S. Rajan's translation of the original Chinese article.

Almost coinciding with the 13th round of Sino-Indian border talks (New Delhi, August 7-8, 2009), an article (in Chinese language) has appeared in China captioned “If China takes a little action, the so-called Great Indian Federation can be broken up” ( Zhong Guo Zhan Lue Gang, , Chinese,8 August 2009). Interestingly, it has been reproduced in several other strategic and military websites of the country and by all means, targets the domestic audience. The authoritative host site is located in Beijing and is the new edition of one, which so far represented the China International Institute for Strategic Studies (

Claiming that Beijing’s ‘China-Centric’ Asian strategy, provides for splitting India, the writer of the article, Zhan Lue (strategy), has found that New Delhi’s corresponding ‘India-Centric’ policy in Asia, is in reality a ‘Hindustan centric’ one. Stating that on the other hand ‘local centres’ exist in several of the country’s provinces (excepting for the U.P and certain Northern regions), Zhan Lue has felt that in the face of such local characteristics, the ‘so-called’ Indian nation cannot be considered as one having existed in history.

According to the article, if India today relies on any thing for unity, it is the Hindu religion. The partition of the country was based on religion. Stating that today nation states are the main current in the world, it has said that India could only be termed now as a “Hindu Religious state’. Adding that Hinduism is a decadent religion as it allows caste exploitation and is unhelpful to the country’s modernization, it described the Indian government as one in a dilemma with regard to eradication of the caste system as it realizes that the process to do away with castes may shake the foundation of the consciousness of the Indian nation.

The writer has argued that in view of the above, China in its own interest and the progress of whole Asia, should join forces with different nationalities like Assamese, Tamils, and Kashmiris and support the latter in establishing independent nation-states of their own, out of India. In particular, the ULFA in Assam, a territory neighboring China, can be helped by China so that Assam realizes its national independence.

The article has also felt that for Bangladesh, the biggest threat is from India, which wants to develop a great Indian Federation extending from Afghanistan to Myanmar. India is also targeting China with support to Vietnam’s efforts to occupy Nansha (Spratly) group of islands in South China Sea. Hence the need for China’s consolidation of its alliance with Bangladesh, a country with which the US and Japan are also improving their relations to counter China. It has pointed out that China can give political support to Bangladesh enabling the latter to encourage ethnic Bengalis in India to get rid of Indian control and unite with Bangladesh as one Bengali nation; if the same is not possible, creation of at least another free Bengali nation state as a friendly neighbour of Bangladesh, would be desirable, for the purpose of weakening India’s expansion and threat aimed at forming a ‘unified South Asia’.

The punch line in the article has been that to split India, China can bring into its fold countries like Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan, support ULFA in attaining its goal for Assam’s independence, back aspirations of Indian nationalities like Tamils and Nagas, encourage Bangladesh to give a push to the independence of West Bengal and lastly recover the 90,000 sq km. territory in Southern Tibet.

Wishing for India’s break-up into 20-30 nation-states like in Europe, the article has concluded by saying that if the consciousness of nationalities in India could be aroused, social reforms in South Asia can be achieved, the caste system can be eradicated and the region can march along the road of prosperity.

The Chinese article in question will certainly outrage readers in India. Its suggestion that China can follow a strategy to dismember India, a country always with a tradition of unity in diversity, is atrocious, to say the least. The write-up could not have been published without the permission of the Chinese authorities, but it is sure that Beijing will wash its hands out of this if the matter is taken up with it by New Delhi. It has generally been seen that China is speaking in two voices – its diplomatic interlocutors have always shown understanding during their dealings with their Indian counterparts, but its selected media is pouring venom on India in their reporting. Which one to believe is a question confronting the public opinion and even policy makers in India. In any case, an approach of panic towards such outbursts will be a mistake, but also ignoring them will prove to be costly for India.

(The writer, D.S.Rajan, is Director of Chennai Centre for China Studies, Chennai, India, email:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

NYT story: Do Women Make Better Bosses?

An interesting set of arguments on women, whether they make better bosses or not, appeared in The New York Times (August 02, 2009). It is an interesting reading, if nothing else.

Do Women Make Better Bosses?
By The Editors

Credit, left to right: Barry Wetcher/Twentieth Century Fox, Andrew Schwarz/Twentieth Century Fox, United Artists Not the best role models: Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada”; Sigourney Weaver in “Working Girl”; Diane Keaton in “Baby Boom.”
Do “female bosses tend to be better managers, better advisers, mentors, rational thinkers”?

That is the view of Carol Smith, the senior vice president and chief brand officer for the Elle Group, expressed in a short interview published inside The Times’s business section a week ago Sunday. Ms. Smith also said that male bosses “love to hear themselves talk” and that in some previous jobs she purposely arrived late to meetings so she could miss the men’s conversations about golf and football.

The interview, conducted by Adam Bryant, The Times’s deputy business editor, generated a lot of reaction and debate among readers last week.

What does research show about the differences between women and men as managers?

Alice Eagly, Northwestern University
Leora Tanenbaum, author of “Catfight”
Joanna Barsh, McKinsey and Company
Susan Pinker, psychologist and columnist
Gary N. Powell, University of Connecticut
Sharon Meers, former managing director at Goldman Sachs

Advantages, Yes, but Also a Double Standard
Alice Eagly is chairman of the department of social psychology at Northwestern University.

As a researcher on managerial behavior, I have read hundreds of studies that have compared women and men as managers. When we summarize all of that research, some differences do show up, although only “on the average.”

As with all averages, there are many exceptions. But here’s what we know from research:

Women are less ‘bossy,’ probably because people dislike bossy women even more than bossy men.

First, as Carol Smith illustrates, women are less “bossy,” probably because people dislike bossy women even more than bossy men. As a result, female managers are more collaborative and democratic than male managers. Second, compared with men, women use a more positive approach by encouraging and urging others rather than a negative approach of scolding and reprimanding them. Third, women attend more to the individuals they work with, by mentoring them and taking their particular situations into account.

Finally, there is the matter of getting the job done efficiently. Most managers, male and female, get their work done in a timely way, but some do not. When you find one of those barely functioning managers — that is, someone who avoids solving problems and just doesn’t get the job done, that person is more likely to be a man than a woman. Why? Perhaps because a woman would be fired or demoted more quickly for poor managing.

So, are women better managers than men? In terms of their day-to-day actions, women managers should have advantages. But the answer is really not so simple because managers do well only if people accept their authority.

In roles that have been held mainly by men, women’s competence is often questioned. In these situations, women managers can face a double standard. They have to be extra-competent to be recognized as effective. Where women managers are more common, this type of bias is less likely to prevail.

Belittling Other Women
Leora Tanenbaum is author of “Catfight: Rivalries Among Women: From Diets to Dating, From the Boardroom to the Delivery Room.”

Yes, countless female managers are great at making lists and sure, lots of men love to hear the sound of their own voices — endlessly. But none of this behavior matters if it’s accompanied with a denial of the continued existence of sexism in the workplace.

Many women who make it to senior management feel a need to prove their own superiority.

Consider: Women are routinely undervalued and assumed to lack competence. Successful men don’t have to worry about when and if to become parents; successful women do. Men earn more and are promoted more.

Troublingly, many individual women who make it to senior management refuse to acknowledge these very real conditions. They position themselves as uniquely and unusually qualified, implicitly belittling other women in a move to prove their own superiority.

Upon becoming president and C.E.O. of Hewlett-Packard in 1999, Carly Fiorina immediately distanced herself from her corporate sisters. Fiorina announced that “there is not a glass ceiling…. My gender is interesting but really not the subject of the story here.” Whether or not Fiorina was a superior CEO because she was a woman is certainly debatable — she was forced out in 2005 — and she was succeeded by another woman, Patricia Dunn, who was accused of spying on the company’s board members.

The best managers, female or male, are those who admit that the corporate structure favors men and who recognize their responsibility to help others follow in their footsteps.

More Emotional, for Better or Sometimes Worse
Joanna Barsh is a director in the New York office of McKinsey and Company and co-author of “How Remarkable Women Lead,” to be published in September.

We’ve been researching remarkable women leaders for the past five years. Indeed, we’ve now interviewed well over 100 women and a few good men. We’ve also developed a research survey that almost 2,000 men and women have responded to from around the world.

In a word, women have an edge over men in terms of what we call centered leadership. Women tend to look for meaning more than men at work (no surprise, men go for pay and status more often).

Women are natural relationship builders, but in general they take fewer risks than men.

Women also bring emotion to the workplace, and when those emotions are positive — that is quite powerful. Psychologists tell us that women experience emotions more at the extremes than men.
That’s why many women do replay negative events over and over.

But female optimists are a different story. Whereas many men rush off in any direction when adversity strikes, optimist women diagnose the situation, make a plan and then act. Are pessimists doomed to the cycle of spiraling down? Not at all. Positive psychologists teach learned optimism, and we can all take a lesson there.

Then there is connecting. Women are natural relationship-builders. But the debate rages as to whether men or women are better at networking. Our own work suggests women hold back, more reluctant to use reciprocity to build “transactional” relationships. That said, the research shows women are more inclusive and build consensus to reach decisions — something that may be increasingly important for large, complex and changing companies today.

When it comes to engaging, men are risk-takers. The women who have made their way to the top have also taken risk — it is the best way to develop at an accelerated pace. In general, we have found that many women don’t. We wait until we have all the necessary skills or the full answer.

Our model ends on energizing, because most women still do more of the household work. Energizing is critical for leaders — both to sustain one’s own path and also to infuse energy into the organization. One area where women can improve is to stop (yes) multitasking when our full attention is required. When you attempt to facilitate a phone conference while doing email, your brain switches between tasks, and you lose focus and energy.

When men and women assessed their own centered leadership practices, it turned out that women scored higher on almost all factors by a marginal amount. We haven’t got enough data to validate that finding, but there’s room for thought.

Are these the right attributes to gauge leadership? We believe they are even more important in today’s marketplace.

Women Are More Effective Mind Readers
Susan Pinker is a psychologist and columnist for the Globe and Mail in Canada. She is the author of “The Sexual Paradox,” about the roots of sex differences in the classroom and the workplace.

No doubts: Some sex differences exist, and there’s new evidence to prove it. Women are often better communicators because their brains are more networked for language. The majority of women are better at “mind-reading,” than most men; they can read the emotions written on people’s faces more quickly and easily, a talent jump-started by the vast swaths of neural real estate dedicated to processing emotions in the female brain, and boosted by jolts of oxytocin at critical moments in their lives. (Amazingly, oxytocin, a hormone circulating in greater quantities in women, squirted up a man’s nostril boosts his mind-reading skills, too.)

While women may be more empathetic than men, individual female managers who have climbed the ladder may not be.

And the thicker corpus callosum connecting women’s two hemispheres provides a swifter superhighway for processing social messages, such as reading the morale of a group, or the mood of a colleague. And there are measurable sex differences in empathy, as President Obama suggested when he nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. There are more women who are champions at imagining what other people are thinking and feeling, and more men who struggle mightily with this skill.

But is this profile true of all women, and does it mean women make better managers? The answer is no, and no.

First, all scientific evidence is based on statistical averages; an individual’s unique qualities are always blended into the group’s. So, even if men are taller than women, on average, variation means that there will always be some women who are taller than some men. And just as women are more empathic, on average, there are certainly men who are softer, and better empathizers than some women.

The readers’ complaints about difficult female managers that appear under the interview with Carol Smith make that clear: aggression is certainly more common among men, but for many reasons, the women who rise up the ranks may be on the more competitive and aggressive side — and their subordinates often feel it — especially the women who work with them.

Competition within each sex is more fierce than it is between the sexes, and one study shows that women report less stress if the boss is a man.

One reason is that competition within each sex is more fierce than it is between the sexes, and within-sex tension increases when resources are tight, as they are in this recession. One study published in 2008 by two sociologists at the University of Toronto, Scott Schieman and Taralyn McMullen, reinforces that maxim. When the scientists looked at physical and mental distress among 1,000 American employees working in a variety of jobs, they found that men worked best with gender-mixed managers: one male, one female. Women, however, worked best with one male manager — reporting fewer headaches, backaches anxiety, and difficulties concentrating than they did when they worked for a woman.

Which shows that Carol Smith is wrong about her blanket statement about women being better managers. But she’s right about something else. Whether we’re talking about mentoring, managing or office politics, the research is clear: “Men and women together are the best.”

A Transformational Style
Gary N. Powell is professor of management in the School of Business of the University of Connecticut in Storrs. He is working on the fourth edition of “Women and Men in Management” and is author of “Managing a Diverse Workforce” and editor of “Handbook of Gender and Work.”

Carol Smith sounds like an excellent manager. Further, her statement that women as a group are better managers than men as a group is supported by recent research. Female leaders tend to display a “transformational” leadership style, which has been demonstrated to contribute to leader effectiveness, more than male leaders do.

Good managers have been seen over three decades as exhibiting more masculine traits than feminine traits.

Transformational leadership includes charisma (communicating the purpose and importance of a mission and serving as a role model), inspirational motivation (exuding optimism and excitement about the mission’s attainability), intellectual stimulation (encouraging others to think out of the box), and individualized consideration (focusing on the development and mentoring of subordinates as individuals).

Ms. Smith is a good example of a transformational leader. When she sits at the middle of the conference table rather than at its head, arriving after the requisite jokes have been told, she communicates, “We are all in this together and I am part of it, but let’s not waste time,” which is the starting point of transformational leadership.

So why aren’t there more women in the corner offices of corporate America? Although more women than ever before are in the managerial ranks of businesses at all levels, women continue to face significant disadvantages in the leader role than men do not face.

First, polls suggest that about twice as many people would rather work for a male boss than a female boss, although “it doesn’t matter to me” is the slight favorite. Second, in my research with D. Anthony Butterfield, good managers have been seen over three decades as exhibiting more masculine traits associated with men, such as autonomy and independence, than feminine traits associated with women, such as warmth and sensitivity to the needs of others.

Many people still see an incongruity between the female gender role and the leader role, which makes it harder for women to attain corner office positions and puts them in an unwelcome spotlight when they do. In 2006, after PepsiCo announced that Indra Nooyi would become its new CEO, the headline of the New York Times story was, “A Woman to Be Chief at PepsiCo.” No headline has ever announced “A Man to Be Chief at Acme Corp.”

A Female Specialty: Feedback
Sharon Meers is co-author of “Getting to 50/50,” about working couples, and a former managing director at Goldman Sachs. She and her husband created the Partnership for Parity at Stanford Business School and the Dual-Career Initiative at Harvard University.

The best thing about female managers? They get you paid more. Women bosses tend to fight harder for their subordinates, according to negotiation research, getting better raises for their teams.

I’ve worked for many great men. But, in my experience, female managers are a special breed. We won’t know for decades if the differences are due more to nature or nurture but they are largely good — and stem from the fact that senior women are still outsiders.

Harvard Business School research says star women are more likely than male stars to remain persistently high performers. Why? Women don’t get the same access to mentors and networks and have to build muscle that men don’t. Star women have to innovate to outperform — building stronger client ties, finding outside advisers, seeking opportunities with results that can be measured objectively.

Women often take an alternative approach to leading teams — encouraging more open discussion, cultivating talent and sharing credit. Feedback is the place where women bosses may add the most value.

Straight talk from a boss at Goldman Sachs.

After seven years at Goldman, I got my first female manager — and more straight talk than in my entire career. She minced no words when I messed up, but she also made it clear she was on my side: my advocate. That powerful combination — candor and trust — inspired her team to accept and act on feedback in a way I hadn’t seen before.

In hundreds of interviews of workers and bosses for our book, we repeatedly heard employees complain about the feedback style of male bosses (everything from excessively harsh to evasive). Male bosses were no more satisfied: Many are now so unsure what’s O.K. in the workplace, they fear female workers’ crying or complaints to HR.

So here’s the real question: How to make the positive qualities we see in female managers more common in men — and more useful to all? A new report from Catalyst shows how companies win when we escape the idea that men and women are so different and work harder to get on the same page — so that men and women bring out the best in each other sharing the same C-suite.

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India-China Border Talks

On August 7 and 8, 2009, India and China held the 13th round of talks. PLA Daily, in a story on the subject, noted that during the talks, the two sides exchanged in-depth views on the further development of China-India Strategic Cooperative Partnership, as well as regional, international and global issues of mutual interest. The Chinese side emphasized that China and India have no other option than living in peace and developing side by side. China stands firmly committed to working with India to press ahead with the bilateral ties. The Chinese side expressed belief that both countries need to promote the relationship with a higher and strategic perspective and continue to uphold the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. China and India should endeavor to build the strategic mutual trust. Both need to expand the common interests and cooperation bilaterally and on regional and global affairs.

While the Chinese official line is all about friendship and peaceful co-existence, the tone and tenor of academic and think-tank writings are not that reassuring. The anti-India rhetoric in the Chinese writings have gone up significantly in the last few years.

Here's an article published a year ago on some of these aspects, more specifically a provocative article, ‘A Warning to the Indian Government: Don’t Be Evil!' in one of the Chinese think-tanks. The article was published by the Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi.

In a provocative article entitled, ‘A Warning to the Indian Government: Don’t Be Evil!’ China has sent a strong message to India. Posted on the website ( of a prominent Chinese think-tank, the China Institute of International Strategic Studies, the article by Zhan Lue (March 26, 2008), compares the present India-China situation to that of 1962 when, the author claims, India provoked a war with China. He notes that China today is better prepared in terms of its military presence in Tibet and nearby regions, besides possessing nuclear weapons. He also contends that China believes that India has been in an aggressive mood as evident in its stationing of more troops on the border, conduct of military exercises with countries, and massive arms acquisitions with China as the target. He concludes by accusing the Indian government of “walking today along the old road of resisting China,” advising India “not to requite kindness with ingratitude.”
Chinese rhetoric has undoubtedly intensified in the last few years, be it from the Chinese politico-military leadership or senior academics. Earlier, Professor Ma Jiali of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), a government think-tank, had argued that India should “return” Tawang, a sacred place for Tibetan Buddhists in Arunachal Pradesh, to China for resolving the vexed border issue, as Beijing could then be “magnanimous” in settling the border in the Western and Middle Sectors of the disputed boundary. Of course, by the same logic, China should be ready to give Lake Mansarovar to India as it is considered one of the most sacred pilgrimage centres for the Hindus!
Will China really launch an attack on India in Tawang or elsewhere in the eastern sector? If so, is India prepared for such an eventuality? While India has improved its overall fighting capability and is willing to use air power in combat (something it did not do in 1962), infrastructure development on the Indian side of the border has remained inadequate. This has been partly the result of the belief harboured by the Indian military and political establishment that infrastructure development in the region would actually enhance the Chinese ability to move into Indian territory in case of a crisis.
In the last few years, the infrastructural developments that China has undertaken in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) as well as on the India-China border provide the potential to the PLA Army to mobilise forces and equipment in a much shorter span of time. It would enable China to mobilise large forces by train and by road onto Indian borders. Earlier this exercise not only took a long time but also was impossible during periods of snow. The new rail line into Tibet, and expressways, have changed the scenario totally. It is believed that China has about 160,000 troops in Tibet, and with improved infrastructure, it will be able to amass another 100,000 troops from the central reserve in a span of six weeks. Indian military planners have also noted that China has vastly improved its air force capability in the region, with multiple air bases and forward airstrips near the border. The PLA Air Force is also believed to have improved its command and control structures, as was evident from an air battle drill staged on March 30, 2008. China can also deploy heavy-lift planes in Tibet, though they may not be able to land and take-off fully loaded because of altitude restrictions. Besides the positioning of intermediate range ballistic missiles such as DF-4 and DF-21 in Tibet, it is reported that they could also deploy DF-31 ICBMs in bases such as at Delingha. This may mean that even a limited conflict between India and China has the potential to spiral out of control to become a dangerous nuclear flashpoint.
India, on the other hand, has about twelve mountain divisions capable of swift offensive operations in the mountainous areas. Two of these were reportedly created in February 2008, specifically for combat in Arunachal Pradesh. Two additional such divisions are estimated to become operational by 2015-16, at a cost of around INR 14 billion (USD 358 million). These will be reinforced by air power, including AWACS and fighter jets. There have also been reports of India’s plans to procure 140 ultra-light 155mm artillery pieces, as also a large number of heavy lift and combat ready helicopters, all of which would have special utility in mountain warfare. Although India has tested a number of intermediate-range missiles, including the Agni-3 capable of hitting both Beijing and Shanghai, these missiles are still not operational.
Despite the rhetoric, it may not be feasible for China to undertake military action against India for at least two reasons. Firstly, present day India is very different from the one defeated by China in 1962 – a fact that was evident to the Chinese even during Operation Falcon/Exercise Chequerboard in 1986/87. Secondly, in any future conflict with China, the use of air power will be critical and is likely to change the outcome in India’s favour. There have been several debates on the offensive use of air power in high altitude areas, the potential of which was well demonstrated in the high-altitude air war during the Kargil conflict. Limited conflicts can be contained to India’s advantage if India takes recourse to the use of air power.
The belligerent tone of Chinese writings and the improved connectivity to its borders notwithstanding, China may not go in for a military attack, given its understanding of improvements in India’s military capabilities. India should not, however, rule out the possibility of occasional Chinese adventurism till such time that there is a clear demarcation of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on the ground and in military maps.