Friday, August 14, 2015

Intelligence Dearth and Public apathy sustains Terrorism in India

First, I started this post immediately after the Gurdaspur attack. However, I was unable to finish it due to my interviews. As you might have guessed, my blog is pretty new and is not generating any income. To add to my difficulties, my fellowship is ending. So I need to find a job as soon as possible.

Ok, coming back to the post. From the time I started to write this post, i.e. from Gurdaspur attack, to until now one more attack has taken place in Udhampur followed by a series of ceasefire violations across the disputed border. What is interesting is that, our 'leaders' are conspicuous by their silence. I believe the world would not have forgotten their jingoistic din upon Indian Army's successful operation across Myanmar border. At that time, I had argued that it may not be able possible for Mr. Modi to repeat Myanmar success.

What is interesting is that no media or public questioned the ministers of their inaction after those jingoistic boasts until now. Interestingly, the parliament session was all about bills and next to nothing about security. Opposition, that was determined to return the favour, almost exclusively focused on the 'Lalit Modi - Sushma Swaraj' scandal that it totally diverted the public attention from what is necessary to something paltry. The public and media fell for this 'mocking bird', quiet readily.

Perhaps, the death of armed personals and civilians in these attacks and ceasefire violations are nothing to be paid attention to. I guess, in Indian psyche, these lives don't matter. It is unfortunate that the loved ones of those victims also failed to unite and say ' we had enough '. In India, which has one of the largest population under poverty, doesn't the lives and livelihoods of poor folks matter?

The problem is also compounded by the apparent dearth of intelligence among our intelligence community, as was evident by their repeated plagiarisms. Even in the recent case of Mr. Maran, it seems Indian intelligence community lifted parts from Wikipedia, which was noted by the preceding judge.

The terrorist attacks and the ceasefire violations are nothing new. Every time something of the likes happens, GoI is happy to point fingers at Pakistan and continue their business (whatever that is...). One of the foremost duties of a country to its citizens, is to provide security and livelihoods. needless to say India has been consistently failing on these counts...!

These attacks are the latest of the series of attacks Pakistan is waging against India since 1990s as a part of its asymmetric warfare strategy against India. The first thing, that should have caught the attention of anyone is how is that Pakistan is still successful? Hadn't India learnt anything? Or is the Pakistani Intelligence really intelligent relative to Indian intelligence? Or Indian intelligence is only concerned about the lives of VIP's? If so, is the Indian tax payer's wasting their money? However, no attention has ever been given to these important questions, neither by the media nor by the public.

A few years ago, 'The Hindu' published an analysis which revealed that just only a third of the IB's work force is working on Indian security the rest two-thirds were entrusted with spying on political opponents. No wonder, none of the political parties wants to provide the intelligence organizations a constitutional status and parliament oversight. These organization survive by the tax payers money, yet serve only their political bosses. In this context, the above questions attains immense significance. Yet, none of the media nor the public seems to be worried about it. I wonder if Gandhi, if alive, would have launched another Non-Cooperation Movement. Notable Gandhians like Anna Hazare and the likes also seems to be silent on this issue, which is really painful. However, it the public which has to wake up...!

To be fair, some questions do prop-up occasionally in the media on security during times of elections. On those occasions, the political parties show the statistics that says the number of fatalities to have gone down since the 1990s. While it may be true, it is also true that the ability to Pakistan-sponsored terrorism poses a greater danger, if ISIS determines to use this network to wage war on India. Pakistan would be more than happy to help ISIS. With India's achilles heels of corruption, nepotism and misuse of power, the implications are terrifying to imagine. It would be in the interest of India and the entire South Asia, to put an end to this unsettling problem of terrorism once far all.

Unfortunately, I think, neither the politicians nor these intelligence agencies are incapable of generating solutions. In their minds there are only four possibilities to deal with Pakistan:
  1. Hand over the disputed regions to Pakistan
  2. Attack Pakistan with over-whelming force and reclaim disputed regions
  3. Continue to negotiate and CBMs
  4. Give Pakistan a taste of its own medicine (covert operations)
Even an absolute idiot would be aware that none of the four choices would work. Handing over the disputed regions to Pakistan is a non-starter. India cannot do that and neither could Pakistan. Any political party/leader attempting this option is clearly committing a political suicide and putting the security of their respective countries at great peril. After all the jingoism and decades of mistrust, this is not going to be a possibility, not in any near future. 

The second option is the favourite of hardliners in the opposition, which they would not embark upon if elected to power. The cost and expense of war, is well known. I'm not sure about Pakistan but if India provokes a war, the politicians who did has to answer the public for the lives lost, even if India wins the war. On the other hand, they may get support if this is in retaliation over a terrorist attack. However, for such a thing to happen, India has to maintain its entire armed forces battle-ready without giving any hints to Pakistan. This is both expensive and Pakistan is likely to get a whiff of India's plans. In such case, there won't be any attacks until Indian soldiers are tired and the forces loses their morale. Further, if India do attack and reclaims PoK, India would lose its stature as a peace beacon in the world stage and Pakistan will most likely collapse, resulting in a much greater threat than Pakistan itself. Pakistan's nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of Taliban or ISIS is a much greater threat than the Pakistan sponsored terrorism. Since this affects China and US and many of other the countries in region India would likely face international pressures against this option. It wouldn't be surprise if China jumps in the war to aid Pakistan and India is clearly not capable of a war at two ends. When would India be capable for such an eventuality is anyone's guess.

The third option is the favourite of the party and politicians, as well as the bureaucrats in power. The reason - its a no brainer. No wonder India is doing this for a very long time. The only problem with is approach is the apparent strengthening of security apparatus, which would usually mean oppression and harassment of some weaker sections of the society. Like the staging up of encounter deaths, where usually the dead are innocents.  The fourth option is the recommendations from the security and intelligence analysts in India, which has its moral costs. If the enemy is ruthless at murdering innocents, could it be morally justified to do the same to his people who are innocents, who has no idea of his/her atrocities? Further, wouldn't the innocents affected by our actions become a fertile recruiting ground for more attacks? Gandhi is a genius for coming up with non-violence, because his intention was not to score tit-for-tat but settle the issue once far all. His movement also reduced collateral damage. In other words, none of the four options is likely to give the intended effect. Yet, our politicians pursue a no brainer with the confidence that the public is none the wiser. Hence, Mr. Singh's pursuit of the third solution is as expected. 

In short, the problem of terrorism persists in India costing thousands of lives every year because of the following:

  1. The attitude that lives of poor and middle class doesn't matter
  2. The attitude that police and law enforcement officials can get away with human abuses and atrocities against innocents, poor performances, etc.
  3. The inability and apparent apathy of the intelligence community and bureaucrats to generate out-of-box ideas and innovations
  4. Red-tape that don't provide an opportunity to develop new ideas or incorporate new minds
  5. Corruption, nepotism, etc.
As Sun Tzu says "If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles...", Pakistan knows India well and acts with impunity costing the lives of innocent civilians. Yet, the only thing India is being good at doing is the losing innocent lives every year to this barbaric act with rhetoric ad nauseam. I would say that this is because of the red-tape, nepotism, corruption and the snobbish attitude towards to the poor and middle class, that drives away good talents and prevents the sprout of new ideas as the main cause of this continuing horror. In short, while the problem with Pakistan may be a Nehruvian legacy, its continuation is definitely due to the dearth of intelligence in our intelligence community and its snobbish attitude to harness the talents are lost to developed nations every year. It is also because of the defeated attitude of the surviving victims and their loved ones to stand up to the government, and the apathy of tax-payers who fail ask, "why should we pay for your comforts and security?"

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Pakistan puts Modi in tight spot...!

On July 28th 2015, three men in army fatigues crossed in the International border between India and Pakistan into the Punjab region of Gurdaspur that had claimed the lives of 3 civilians and 4 police officers and had left a over a dozen injured. Only last month, Indian media were booming with pride and Indian ministers were giving jingoistic rhetorics to the media, about the change in attitude of the GoI (Government of India) in accordance with the promise of Mr. Modi's government to get tough with Pakistan should there be another attack. However, in my previous post, I argued that it may not be possible for India to repeat the success in Pakistan. I guess, time has to come to prove me wrong... However, the government's less than normal media storm would indicate otherwise... In any case, hot pursuits are to come into effect in less than 72 hours and it is not yet, 72 hours... So we'll wait and see how Mr. Modi's reacts.

In the mean time, let look into the attack and the options India has. Though the attack itself is limited in the damage and definitely lacks in scale and media attention compared to 26/11 attack in Mumbai, it has some similarity. Both have used 'fidayeen' style attacks using small arms and in both the cases, there were intelligent inputs on possible attacks that were ignored by the government, concerned. By this attack, Pakistan attempts to:
  1. Discredit Mr. Modi and his government in the international arena as "toothless paper tiger"
  2. Give Congress and Pro-Pakistan lobbies tooth to pressure government that talks are the only forward, while people are well aware that it had only cost their lives and livelihoods
  3. Prove their ability to still carry-out attacks in India from across border, to their dwindling supporters in India and possibly to enlist IS.
It is also highly likely that the attack is the result of the thaw in Indo-pak relations. Whenever, Indo-Pak relation sees a thaw, it had almost always followed by an attack in large or small scale. The best example is the Kargil war in 1999 which immediately followed, within months, after the Lahore summit and the historic bus journey of Mr. Vajpayee in February 1999. Similarly, the Agra Summit in July 2001 was followed by an attack on Indian Parliament in December 2011. Many such examples could be given. In all these cases, one similarity is that the attacks almost always followed within months after a thaw in relations. The current attack too, follows the same pattern. It has happened within months (actually within days...) after Ufa summit. So, one thing is for sure, unless and until Pakistan change it attitude or India grows its tooth, innocent Indians are going to lose their lives every time Indian politicians tries to become Gandhi or fall prey to the Pro-Pakistani (Pro-talk) lobby.

While the pattern of attack stands, what is a mystery to me is why? Is the Pakistani Government taking Indians to be fools or think that Indians cannot fight back as some late Pakistan' President thought, is anyone' guess. It is also likely that Pakistan is run by parallel governments, one that is publicly recognized to take the blame and lose power for the act of the other, which is shadows (at least in legal terms... read Pakistan military). While the first possibility still lacks solid evidence, the history of Pakistan Army over-throwing Pakistan Government one too-many times stands evidence for the second possibility. Even US had to toe Pakistan Army's line to get its work done in Afghanistan. In fact, US bought Pakistan's support for its actions in Afghanistan through its multi-billion dollar aids. And its inability to keep Pakistan Army in check, in spite of these largesse, to do its bidding could be attributed to its not so successful campaign in Afghanistan. 

In any case, Mr. Modi is now in a fix. Unlike Myanmar, Pakistan Army is hostile to Indian interests. In fact, it is the perpetrator of the shadow war that is costing hundreds of Indian lives every year. If India tries to emulate its Myanmar actions, Pakistan has the capabilities to retaliate and will do for sure. Thanks to China. Extraction is much more difficult than intrusion, in this context. If Mr. Modi, decides to get tough with Pakistan he can only push Indian soldiers for a suicidal mission, which may not go well with Indian public and may not even succeed. India lacks the stealth technologies that are necessary for the successful penetration of Pakistani airspace, any way. Even if he tries to cover it up, it would crop-up for sure in future and elections would be a very bad time for such information to be leaked.  

Thanks to I.K Gujjral's misplaced bonhomie India lacks covert action capabilities against Pakistan while the latter maintains and nurture its asymmetric advantage over India. In spite of the advise of many security and strategic analysts, the successive governments of India hesitates to reinstate the covert operation capabilities of Indian intelligence. For one, they don't want to be seen as anti-Gandhian. The other is the successful lobbying by Pakistan sponsored pro-talk groups in India and other nations. Hence, covert action is not a possibility.

The third option, that Mr. Modi could resort to is to make precision missile attacks. Indian missile systems seems to have that technology. For example, Brahmos and Shaurya missiles of India are capable of attacking Pakistani targets close to border with precision. Their speed makes interception difficult. However, this would invariably invite the wrath of Global community as Pakistan would claim that Indian attack had killed innocent lives. For such attack, intelligence should be accurate. If it was found later that India attacked and killed innocent civilians, it would be left with a red-face in the global arena and its non-aggressive peaceful history stand blemished. This option is the most viable, if Mr. Modi decides to walk the talk... However, India has to risk a war with Pakistan, as it is highly likely that Pakistan escalates the conflict to a full fledged nuclear war

The fourth option, is the easiest and is the most often used by the successive governments. Condemn Pakistan's actions, some more rhetorics, some increase in defence budgets and as usual try to mount International pressure... Probably, also throw a "mocking bird", some missile advancement or achievement that could take the sight of public from this attack. This option only make him another paper tiger. However, in all likelihood, this would be the most likely course Mr. Modi might take, given India's predilections and past responses...!

In short, Pakistan in a single act has called off Mr. Modi's bluff in Myanmar and had made his Government get caught in its own rhetorical trap. The world now waits to see if Mr. Modi can walk his talk... Or is he yet another paper tiger?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Harper Immigration Policies destroy talents...

Canada is gripping with election fever but none of the parties seem to address or even acknowledge the misplaced immigration policies of Mr. Harper. This, while Canada's Global Competitive Index (GCI) ranking, a measure by World Economic Forum (WEF) on the ability of a country to bring prosperity to its population, has slipped to 15th in 2015. GCI takes over 110 variables into account for the estimation. However, by comparing with US, I think the flawed immigration policies and the system skewed against immigrants could be one of the reasons along with spending cuts to R&D.

It seems there is a lot of groups lobbying to restrict immigration. To an extent, it is true that some tend to import cheap labor but skilled-immigrant population actually helps Canadian economy more than it hurts. For example, African doctors who migrated to Canada saved over 400 million dollars while costing their home countries billions. Assuming an average citizen of Canada makes a million dollars during his productive period, the savings mean 400 more jobs or possibilities to invest in opportunities that could produce even more jobs and consequently more income to the Govt. However, in an attempt to fix this problem the immigration policies enacted, actually seem to aggravate this problem and in some cases, pushing of skilled immigrants out of the country or derogate them to lower jobs. Thanks to improvement of conditions in Asia and the flawed immigration policies, Canada is now seeing reverse immigration.

Prof. McNiven, in an interview to CBC in 2012 said that PhDs from developing countries were lured to Canada with high hopes only to find that their qualifications were not enough making them to drive taxis and work in restaurants. He also mentioned that it is due to the Canadian Government's intention to keep the higher paying "good jobs" among Canada-born young people.  He was also correct in saying that Canada needs immigrants with minimal skill and a lot of drive. From my experience, if I'm to recruit some one to my team or company, more than the skill they have I would look for their ability to acquire the skill. Hence, I agree with McNiven on accepting immigrants with minimal skill and lot of drive. However, the same conditions ("good jobs" for Canadians) still exist and the flaws in the system still helps the industries bring cheap labor instead of attracting and retaining talents - resulting in brain drain.

As case in point is the situation of postdocs and scientists, visiting Canada to work in Federal  and other laboratories across Canada. These immigrants add to skilled workforce involved in the development of technologies and science which ultimately benefit Canada. However, when these postdocs want to find an academic position in an University after their tenure as a postdoc or move to industries, they hit a "glass wall". Since companies are not much inclined to spend time and money (a requirement by CIC), a residency becomes a requirement for a job offer. However, according to the current system, one needs a "valid" job offer to get invited to apply for residency. The end result is either under-utilization or drain of talents. If I'm not wrong, I guess the labs and government perceive these postdocs as expendable cogs. In other words, they are doing the same thing that they want others not to do - exploit immigrants and import cheap labor. What they fail to realize is that these young minds, while they do bring new ideas on their arrival also leave with more ideas on their departure. In addition to attributing to the attrition of talents, the scenario could very well play against Canadian interests in geo-politics.

On the other hand, according to the current point system, the people who would enter Canada are IT and similar professionals, under paid by their company back at home. When these companies bring these professionals, usually they are brought on deputation and instead of a full payment, they would receive allowances. However, after a year these professionals would be eligible for Experience Class immigration and since they already have a "valid" job offer with LMO (Labor Market opinion), they would be successful in immigrating to Canada. I leave it to the readers to determine which one is good for the country in short and long term.

The start-up visa program, is also a bit tricky and may not be effective in retaining talents. First, most of the postdocs prefer a scientific career. After all, they chose to do PhD when they could have very well proceeded to become an MBA, right? Also, it might be difficult for the postdocs in the Federal labs to bring together a team to form a start-up. At the most, some one in some universities could apply for the Start-Up visa program. From what I understand, there had not been many success stories. A person with right business mind, also may not be interested to create a startup/company here because of the cost of labor and raw materials, as well as the size of markets. For example, India and China are bigger markets than Canada.

The federal and provincial labs that host visiting fellows and scientists also provide next to nothing opportunities to build their skill-sets or acquire new skills, to help them move to industry or to improve their employability. This actually aggravates the postdoc crisis. I had attended a few interviews from data science start-ups. Though I have a good understanding on time series data and have been dealing with extremely discontinuous data, and, as any postdoc, acquire the programming skills along the way to complete my tasks, these start-ups invariably rejected opportunities as I was lacking skills in Hadoop or Scala. I was hoping to have an opportunity to acquire those skill sets. However, if I have to acquire them myself I need over 24hrs (I already sleep only for 4 hrs) and more money to set-up my own infrastructure to acquire the experience that these companies, apparently seek. Further, the regulations in effect, prohibits postdocs from attending International conferences (even when they have results to present. The same is the case for Federal Scientists as well.), which are vital to their career development. In short, the policies of the Canadian Government effectively destroys young scientific minds.

I guess these are what some call as invisible racism and Harpers Govt. is not just helping brain drain but effectively destroying them. I think it would do more good to Canada if the underlying problems that hinders the realization of the full potential of immigrant talents are addressed instead of directing racial slurs. However, both the opposition and the public seem to be oblivious to the issue... I guess, immigrant postdocs should be warned against coming to Canada... Would you agree?!

Note to Readers: I have been off for a couple of weeks, as I have been attending interviews. I greatly appreciate your patience and your continued support.  

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Tsipras' Proposal: Who is he kidding?

I was impressed by Tsipras' political maneuver in the bail out negotiations, that I was surprised and shocked by his U-turn. Reading through his proposal, I'm more than disappointed to find nothing new. In other words, the proposal is almost the same as was demanded by the Troika. To make things worse, the parliament jumped in with him, today.

Greece's proposal for EU bail-out aims at attaining a fiscal surplus of 3.5% of GDP by 2018. An ambitious target, nonetheless achievable. However, I strongly doubt if the proposal put forth could ever achieve it. It fails to recognize the driver behind the fundamental problem that led Greece to this debacle in the first place. I'm confident that the creditors are wise, but wants Greece to swallow its one poison, so that they can make bucks of the market.

To start with the proposed VAT reform, Greece aims at taxing restaurants and catering services at 23%. This would mean that franchise outlets like McDonald's and KFC could lose it attraction, pushing the unemployment rate higher, which would only reduce government income. Further, operating business would tend to highly under-report their income, leading to loss of revenue. The proposal, elsewhere, mentions of strengthening the enforcement agencies by criminalizing tax evasion. Won't that increase the overhead cost for tax collection?

The VAT reforms put forth by Greece also aims at reducing tax for theaters whose tax would now stand at 6%. I wonder, why is this preferential treatment to the theaters. First of all, in a tough economy, not many would have enough disposable income to enjoy the comforts of theaters. Second, it would encourage youngsters to look forward to theaters as sustainable sources of employment, which is not the case as one could observe from all over the world.

Another thing in the VAT reforms that I couldn't quite understand is, why the basic food should cost more than the pharmaceuticals? Basic food, along with energy and water, is to be taxed at 13% while pharmaceuticals are to be taxed at 6%. So, is Tsipras encouraging Greece to an unhealthy lifestyle? Or is he favouring the pharmas? This is akin to asking Greece to fall sick as it is cheaper to have medicines than to have food. Would sick population contribute to economy?

Further, the proposal put forth aims at tightening the definition of farmers to bring more people in the tax ambit. However, I think this proposal is made to target either small farmers or large farmers. Who is going to be targeted, we have to wait until Tsipras "defines" who is a farmer? Further reforms to Fiscal structural measures, aims at increasing corporate tax to 28% from 26%. I'm not sure, if Tsipras and his finance minister are in their own perceived state of Greece superiority. While, most of the population is unemployed, the hike in corporate tax would only increase in flight of capital and jobs. Further, those corporations who remain to operate in Greece would not be able to compete globally, again leading to loss of jobs and government revenue. I would like to draw attention to the Laffer Curve on taxation. This study is highly controversial and in some cases disproved. However, I think in the case of Greece, it may hold good as it may encourage foreign investments and corporations to operate from Greece.

The put-forth proposal proposes to provide disincentives for early retirement. However, I think it is infringing upon one's personal rights. Smart youngsters, would most likely take undeclared works and stash the money in some foreign accounts to cash during retirement. Of course, the proposal aims at identifying undeclared works. But how is Tsipras going to make that work? The law enforcement agencies as well as those who undertake those jobs are going to benefit from such works. The former through bribes and the later through additional untaxed income. I think Tsipras and his finance ministers are in the era of "barter system". Now the youth can take jobs from anywhere and earn from anywhere, store their revenue as bitcoins and cash them when they require. How is Tsipras going to address this issue? Ban Internet? Or create an agency to investigate and enforce compliance? Where is he going to pay the overhead cost of setting up the infrastructure from? From more debt?

The proposal also aims to hire more managers to make the system efficient. Even the Tories in Canada do the same. At least they have a hidden agenda, their meaning for efficiency is shutting down services and cutting federal jobs. So, does Tsipras have the same in his mind? If so, unlike Canada, Greece unemployment will rise leading to social and economic backlash. Is he prepared to deal with that? More importantly, does he have enough money (required to pay severance, unemployment benefits, etc.) to deal with that?

The proposal aims at adjusting zonal property taxes, preventing fuel smuggling, etc., but fails to provide any incentives to encourage declaration of true income, increase employment, attractive industries, attract foreign investments and lacks a sustainable path to compete in global market. At the most the proposed measures would aggravate Greece's debt and unemployment crisis. Grexit may have been a better alternative.

It seems Tsipras out maneuvered not only the EU but also successfully fooled the Greece electorate. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Austerity aids who?

...Governments run by people who are either rich or supported by rich, have only the best interest of the rich in their minds...
In my previous post, I had argued that austerity would only lead to further austerity as it shrinks the economy. Keynesian Theory of economics is a classical theory that every student of economics would come across. Then, why are the EU nations and IMF administering the hard-pill of austerity on Greece. Why UK administers austerity when it has only increased poverty? Why is Canada administering austerity, when it claims to be well-off in the media? Why is US administering austerity? Some one should be benefitted by it, right? Who gets benefitted by austerity and who loses?

Runners first

During the European Debt Crisis in the later part of 2008, many European countries assumed the indebtedness of their banks to prevent them from failing. This left many of the European countries in debt to the extent they were not able to pay their debts without assistance from third parties such as EFSF (European Financial Stability Facility), ECB (European Central Bank) and IMF (International Monetary fund). Since many of these organizations require austerity as a part of their bail-out programs, countries are forced to impose austerity measures. 

For example, Ireland imposed austerity measures when it assumed the debts of its private sector banks and had to be assisted by the EU and IMF. While Ireland eventually recovered and ended its austerity in the 2015 budget, the impact of austerity was substantial. Property values collapsed making people pay mortgage more than what their property worth.  The economy shrunk resulting in widespread employment which rose from 4.2% in 2007 to 14.6% in 2012. Ireland also saw huge emigration with around 34500 people leaving Ireland between 2009 and 2010. However, the impact of these measures were felt most by those who could not bear it

Similarly, austerity measures imposed by UK due to its bank bail-outs were also affecting the poorest population who could hardly bear the impacts. As of 2014, close to a quarter of the UK population are in poverty. Unemployment rate rose from around 5.7% in 2007 to over 8% in 2012. However, since 2012 unemployment rate has shown gradual decrease. However the austerity was again found to affect the poorest of population

Though here two countries are taken as an example, we could make a point that the poorest of poor are those who'd be affected the most, the losers to austerity. This is also because the poor are the biggest consumer of public services, which takes the major hit due to spending cuts. If people tend to commit suicide  then austerity is effectively eliminating poor instead of poverty

Winners next

Naturally, those who hold and control government debts gains the most. When the governments bailed the banks, the investors benefitted from the austerity as their assets grew while the poor suffered as it is their jobs and earnings which was taken to pay for bailing out the banks. Naturally, investors and the wealthy were the big winners. 

Further, when the governments cuts its services and shrinks its work force, the private sectors see a increase in the supply of labor. Most of these labor could be acquired at low cost, particularly for short-term. Temporary workers are neither paid on par with the permanent workers nor have the benefits of the latter, in many countries. Further, their employees could be forced to put on more hours at work with the threat of lay-off. In other words, austerity helps big corporations and the wealthy to exploit the labor of the poor. 

Naturally, the rich-poor divide has grown sharply since 2007 with many billionaires seeing large increase in their wealth


Clearly, Austerity aids the rich, corporations and the investors...

There are many studies hailing the rich and the reason for the growth of their wealth as due to their wise investments. However, these studies/articles carefully "forget" to mention that poor and middle class don't have enough disposable income to invest, in the first place. Further, while the rich may have their investment knowledge transferred from their parents or bought, the poor and middle class are left in the dark. 

Further, I believe the system itself is designed to aid the investors. While I cannot say for every country, I could about India and Canada. In India, the rich has the money to buy the Govt. officials and vital information to make informed decisions on their investment, though illegal. In Canada, the start-up visa program, I believe, was designed with the interest of the investors (venture-capitalists) in mind. For example, it wouldn't include crowd-sourcing opportunities to raise capital. The system provides little opportunities for immigrant researchers for entrepreneurial pursuits though, those pursuits could create more jobs for Canadians... Rich again has an opportunity to get a investor visa or buy a business...

This makes me wonder, if the Governments real intentions are to help its people or only a section of its population. I'm afraid, the Governments run by people who are either rich or supported by rich, have only the best interest of the rich in their minds. However, what I don't understand is why people don't realize this and why they are falling prey to politicians' lies...

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Grexit: World may suffer with Greece

Currently, the world is going nuts over the Greek dilemma. The surprising move by the President of Greece, Mr. Alexis Tsipras to call for a referendum on EU bailout conditions, have stumped many of the EU's leaders that they have started to openly vilify Mr. Alexis Tsipras. While the world would know Greece's decision by the start of next week, in the mean time Mr. Tsipras has closed the banks and stock-exchange to prevent financial collapse

Greece's bold move

In my previous post, I had argued that austerity is likely to lead a country into a vicious cycle. As austerity tends to reduce disposable income, people may tend to be frugal which could further aggravate the problem. Austerity is also likely to cause unsurmountable hardships to the citizens of the nation. Hence, I regard Mr. Tsipras move for a referendum bold and creative. Apparently, the move have stumped the EU leaders' expectation that Mr. Tsipras could be pressured to submission as is apparent by their open personal attacks on him. If anything, he might be on the right track.

Greece is not without precedent. Many countries have defaulted and have recovered from the financial crisis in the wake of such default to become strong economies. In case, on July 5th, Greece rejects EU's proposal it may its exit from EU. In such case, Greece is at liberty to issue its own currency. Though the currency might start on par with Euro, it would soon be devalued which may increase inflation sharply. However, such devaluation may also turn out to be a boon as it could boost exports there by setting Greece on its path to recovery. The period of intense economic hardships due to inflation would have severe effects on the lives of the people. However, I hardly doubt if the situation would be any different if Greece accepts EU's proposal.

However, Greece should guard itself against continuing to commit the mistakes that had led it into the crisis - corruption and tax evasion. If the tax is not friendly or is felt unjustified, it is likely to encourage corruption and tax evasion. With increasing tax evasion, the country is unlikely to increase its revenue, which is critical for its recovery from the debt-trap.

Greece Exist cost more to EU

I believe Greece's exist from EU is likely to affect the other nations in EU more than the Greece itself. Greece's exit would mean a fracture in the political union of Europe. It is likely that other countries like Ireland and Spain may follow suit plunging Europe into financial crisis, affecting markets and resulting in financial instability whose effects would be felt all over the world. Euro would lose its value plunging EU into high inflation.

A fractured EU would likely see EU's influence diminished in the World politics. Greece is already trying to woo Russia to invest. In such case, the NATO allies may not be particularly comfortable knowing the growing influence of Russia in their backyard. In addition, China is also buying off Greece's debts, which would likely increase China's influence in the region.

Greece's exit at this juncture would also be inopportune as UK is in the process of conducting a referendum to decide whether to continue with EU or not. In case of Greece's exit, the anti-EU parties' claims could find support, which may further weaken EU.

Hence, Greece's tragedy is likely a EU's tragedy and may likely to lead to many set-backs, economic and strategic. I'm sure the EU leaders are not oblivious to the reality but their dogged insistent ofn austerity makes anyone wonder the reason behind their insistence...

In any case, the world would know Greece's verdict by Sunday evening...

Saturday, June 27, 2015

India cries foul in Pakistan's glee

"...had the people of India refused to buy Chinese products/services for one day, China would have learnt its lesson...!"

For the last couple of days, Indian media is going crazy over China blocking India's proposal against Zakhir-ur-Rehman Lakhvi the terror mastermind of 26/11 massacre. However, it is neither new nor in the interest of China's grand strategy to help India in the issue of Pakistan-sponsored-terrorism.

China's act is nothing new

In fact China is consistently blocking India's attempt to bring Pakistan's state sponsored terrorism for quite sometime. China did the same in the case of Syed Salahuddin (United Jihad Council), when China put India's proposal on a "Technical hold", effectively stalling the process. Since December 2014, it seems India had filed three separate proposals with UN, each of which has been stalled by China. The discussion on Syed Salahuddin was even stalled for long time, thanks to China. Similarly, China had blocked India's proposals against Maulana Masood Ashar, Abdur Rehman Makki and Azam Cheema in 2010.

It is not just with the proposals on terrorism. China was against US-India nuclear deal as well and has been consistently sabotaging India's bid to UN Security Council. It was also consistently blocking India's entry into the Nuclear Supplier Group and was trying to push Pakistan, in the name of 'parity' with utter disregard to Pakistan's nuclear proliferation history. 

Hence, it could be safely said that China blocking India's proposal on Lakhvi is nothing new but was consistent with their unstated official policy. In other words, China is India's foe in the grab of a "friend". Though many in India would agree, those clamouring for a few bucks at the cost of the national security wouldn't and the government of India is still spineless to call spade a spade.

Pakistan's all-weather friend

In my previous post, I had argued that Pakistan plays a vital role in China's grand strategy, as spoiler state of the region and as a counter-balance for India. As long as India concerned with the Pakieconomic assistance to nuclear blue prints?
stan sponsored terrorism, it wouldn't look to challenge China in the global politics - at least thats what China expects. To add value to the expectation, India is extremely occupied with Pakistan than the source of the threat. Isn't this the reason, it is carefully harbouring Pakistan, from providing

There is also another dimensions, why China wouldn't go against Pakistan. Pakistan didn't hesitate to sabotage US operations and supply routes through Pakistan, even after accepting billions in aid, ostensibly against US' drone strikes. However, this is also viewed as the result of growing India-US relations in nuclear energy and counter-terrorism. Dwadar Port and the road through Karakoram range is vital to China's "String of pearl" strategy, aimed at encircling India. Further, Pakistan is one of the staunch supporter of China's "Silk Road" project. If China votes in favour of India, it is highly likely that it would face break-down in relation similar to US. While US had no "string of pearls", China has and it cannot afford to lose its advantage after spending billions for the purpose. 

India Cries foul

Yes, history stands as a proof for India's credentials to regional and world peace. However sometimes, India should look beyond its own self-inflicted restraints. Further, with a UNSC a foe and a supporter of the nations hostile to India's interest, India's efforts are next to nothing but just "optics" to fool people. Doesn't India know that China is going to block its proposals? Had it not done before? So waste time in doing the same and waste taxpayer's money? Until this date, India has not enacted any acts to counter China or make China rethink its actions. This shows nothing but the political-strategic ineptitude of our politicians and bureaucracy. "Linear" thinking may be great for bureaucracy but wouldn't work in power-play.

I believe India's state, with respect to terrorism, is a consequence of the ill-fated and ill-advised move by Mr. I. K. Gujral to disband India's covert operational capabilities in Pakistan. Had, the tough speaking Mr. Modi's Government determined in bringing the perpetrators to books, he would have re-instituted India's covert operational capabilities. With covert capabilities, these masterminds could have been eliminated. Similarly, had India spent some time in developing technologies, India could easily pinpoint and eliminate its hostile targets within Pakistan with perfect deniability. However, I don't see any sincerity on the part of Mr. Modi or his government, in this direction. Though, Mr. Modi is trying to emulate China is other aspects, he fails to emulate it in the most important one - reversing brain drain and bring technologies and know hows from other nations...

I understand that India, as a nation may not be in position to impose sanctions against Chinese business interests due to it being a part of WTO. However, what makes the people to renounce Chinese products? In response, to China's act in the US, had the people of India refused to buy Chinese products/services for one day, China would have learnt its lesson...!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

West drives Russia...

US, EU  and NATO drives Russia to China and India is oblivious to the consequences
Russia has been a strategic friend and ally of India for the past few decades. However, Russia's policy maneuvers in the last 5 years seems to show an increasing trend towards China and Pakistan. While many Indian analysts term these moves a mistake, I think that these are strategic moves with multiple messages. This article views some of the policy maneuvers of Russia and the context in which they are made.

Sino-Russian Relations in the context:

Russia and China have been gradually building relations since the 1990s. However, the following policy maneuvers by Russia seems more of a consequences of geo-politics than of friendship...

2004 Complementary Agreement

Since the 1990s the Sino-Russia border situations has been steadily improving, which culminated in the transfer of land by Russia to China in 2004, with the complementary agreement. With the transfer of the islands, the border dispute between the two countries was resolved. This could enable them to pursue common strategic goals and deepen their economic ties.

Though, from the surface, it may seem like Russia capitulating to China, it is not the case when this act is viewed from a global perspective. During 2004, the West and Russia were trying to assert their influence in Ukraine. The joining of some former Soviet States in EU might have not gone well with Russia. In this context, by ceding some land that is disputed to China, Russia turned a potential foe into a friend. This is also a signal by Russia for a multi-polar world. US should have noted the signal, as such moves not only rises China's stature but also its aspirations, potentially making the Asia-pacific open to Chinese brinkmanship and adventurism.

India, should also have noted this Russian move as it has ominous warnings to India. Though China's military and economic capabilities are awesome, China is still far behind Russia in military technologies. The alliance would mean that China is now capable of acquiring more advanced weaponry for potential use against India and other nations with which it has hostilities over territories. China, being a "blood brother" of Pakistan is likely to influence Russia to end its arms embargo against Pakistan. Further, the boost in China's economy is likely to increase its defense spending. None of the mentioned situations bode well for India but I'm not sure how India chose to be blind to the developments. 

30 Year Gas deal

The long meddling of  West and Russia in Ukraine led to the break up of Crimea, which was successfully annexed to Russia on 18 March, 2014. Following which, the West (NATO and EU) were up in arms with a slew of economic sanctions against Russia. I believe the 30 year Gas deal with China is a consequence of these sanctions, as the deal followed the first two rounds of economic sanctions against Russia - its enterprises and individuals. In other words, the West's activities not only split Ukraine and pushed it into a civil war but also helped China to diversify its energy routes. With the supply of Russian oil, China is less dependent on its oil routes through Malacca strait, a strategic choke point. Further, the boost to China's economy is likely to affect the security and territorial interests of countries in the Asia pacific.

In this context, it should also be noted that Russia's proposal to bypass Ukraine as its main oil transit hub, which is likely to affect Ukraine's economy adversely and have far flung implications.

Personally, I think India missed an opportunity both in terms of strategy and solidarity. India could have struck a similar deal with Russia which would have provided a boost to Indian economy. However, India has been increasingly showing timidity and ineptitude in such affairs for quite some time (as in the case of Iran). I believe, the reason behind India's reluctance to make use of the opportunity is due to its intentions to purchase "not so much needed" nuclear reactors from Western nations. Please don't mistake me. India very much needs power but India, over the years, have developed capabilities to build its own nuclear reactors. At this juncture, what India needed most is to further develop its capabilities - which could be through attracting Indian diaspora as well as help from friends, as Chinese did. However, the 'turf-dom' politics, corruption, nepotism, etc., is a turn-away for most of the talents. India is also not serious in making its own facilities efficient. India also forgot that it was Russia which helped build its first capabilities. Hence, it is wonderful opportunity wasted. 

End of Arms Embargo to Pakistan

As I had mentioned earlier, China's close association with Russia is likely to influence the latter to end its arms embargo against Pakistan, a country which uses terrorism as its state-policy. However, the tipping point, I believe is the MMRCA deal to France in which Russia was one of the contender. In this context, the action of Russia seems like a punitive action for India's decision to give the deal to the West with which it is in conflict. Further, it is also a demonstration that Russia is not solely dependent on Indian market for its defense products. Though MiG-35 was cheaper considerably than Rafale, it was also inferior to Rafale in range and combat radius. However MiG-35 is faster than Rafale and had a better climb rate. Rafale is also consider among the top 10 dog-fighters. In addition, Rafale is tested and found to suit army needs based on other non-combative factors too. So, though it is in Indian interest to choose Rafale, it is likely that Russia had felt betrayed.

The economic prospect in the MMRCA deal is likely to make any country, rich or poor, drool. In this context, it may be a human nature to feel betrayed. However, India was both inept and myopic here. It could have gradually tried to acquire the crafts, instead of giving the total number of acquisitions in a "winner-takes-all" fashion. If at all, the 1998 sanctions against India, should have served as a warning. Further, by gradual increase, India is at a better position to acquire the latest and best. In any case, the deal is literally dead now, after many delays and cost overruns, portraying India's indecisiveness and ineptitude in strategic acquisitions.  This is much ado about nothing...

West drives East

In this context, some believe that Russia has diminished its stature and strategic sheen by "bear-hugging" with China. However, I believe that Russia's actions are more of its response to International events that has direct bearing to its security and economy.

Some times it is hard for me to shake the feeling whether the West (US, EU and NATO) is more intent on erasing Russia from the map instead of achieving world peace. If such is the case, it wouldn't surprise me given the cold-war attitude of the politicians in US and NATO. This attitude is against the very democratic principles, that the West supposedly champion (Isn't tolerance a core principle of democracy?). However, with the world dynamics changing, EU is no more the sole power wielder next to US. China is rising, belligerently. Unlike the erstwhile Soviet Union, it is more calculative and vicious. The world economy is suffering and the terrorism, ISIS, is at large. In this context, I believe the entire Ukraine episode could (should) have been avoided, had the West been a bit more sensitive to Russian sentiments (US was not particularly accommodative to communist ideals in its backyard, so why should Russia?!). With the events on the contrary, I believe the West drove Russia into China's embrace, a more aggressive opponent.

India would do well to have its interests as priority and develop ability to identify its friends from foes. As the rise of China would have a immediate bearing on its security and territorial integrity. Mr. Modi, should realize that boasting and Hindutva, is not going to make India rise to a super-power status if it makes a habit of missing strategic opportunities and continues show immaturity and inefficiently in building its capabilities.

It is not late for India and the West to realign their strategic priorities with a view on the future.