“Indian society is king and queen minded”
Few people could be blessed with a pedigree like that of Rajmohan Gandhi which, since childhood, drew him close to political ideas and events of unsurpassed significance. His grandfather was the great Indian leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, and he is descended from his mother’s side from Chakravarty. Rajagopalachari, the Indian political leader who became the last governor-general of India after independence. He has done both his grandparents proud and written their biographies. Mohandas: A True Story of the Man, His People and the Empire is a tome spanning more than 700 pages and slightly more modest is the biography Rajaji, A Life, as Rajagopalachari was often referred to.
This pedigree does not detract or add to Rajmohan Gandhi’s own stature as a scholar, although wherever he goes, he must be introduced as the descendant of these eminent political figures. That is not, however, as we introduced him to our members when he came to The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs on 8 February 2014 to have an informal conversation on The state of India’s democracy. His biographies of Gandhi, Rajagopalachari, Sardar Patel and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan apart, he has written on South Asian history and is credited with being, through his works, a reconciler of ideas, perceptions and conflicts. Reference is made here to only two of these works: Understanding the Muslim Mind and Revenge and Reconciliation. Rajmohan Gandhi gave balanced and restrained replies to the questions thrown at him – he was speaking to a Pakistani audience. Continue reading
Mr. Rajmohan Gandhi, historian, biographer, peace builder and former member of the Rajya Sabha in India will hold an informal discussion with the members of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs on The state of India’s democracy on Saturday, 8 February 2014 from 3:45 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., in the Library of the Institute.
Rajmohanji is also a Research Professor at the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA. Please see his incredibly impressive biography here.
Mohandas: A True Story of a Man, His People and an Empire, described by Khushwant Singh as “meticulously researched”, Punjab: A History from Aurangzeb to Mountbatten and Rajaji: A Life are among his many acclaimed books. (Click underlined links for previews on Google Books.)
You are cordially invited to participate in this session.
Members and guests are requested to be punctual.
S. A. Minam Jafri
The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs
Aiwan-e-Sadar Road, Karachi 74200, P. O. Box 1447
Telephone: 92-21-35682891, 35686069
Fax: 92-21-35686069, email: email@example.com
The European Parliament presented a year-end gift to Pakistan by according us the status of Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus that should provide a much needed boost in exports, especially textiles and leather. Everyone concerned with this achievement patted themselves on the back for a job well done. It did not matter who did what or how or what really spurred the European Parliament to take a positive decision. However, in the initial euphoria, it seemed that stakeholders completely forgot the importance of what is nonchalantly referred to as non-traditional exports. Minerals, for example.
Various trade development policies and frameworks did provide incentives and subsidies for many items but there has never been a focused attention accorded to minerals: see the Mines Act (IV of 1923) which although old still gives rights to workers and sets out basic standards. There is the usual bragging that Pakistan is richly endowed with natural resources and has billions of tons of coals to last a century, etc, etc but actions speak louder than words. The Pakistan Strategic Trade Policy Framework (2012-15) earmarked only “Rs 20 million for subsidy at 100 per cent of the prevailing mark-up rate for establishing mining and processing units in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.”Interestingly, the same amount is allocated for Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Continue reading
In theoretical international relations, the state is regarded as the central figure; an entity around which everything revolves, whether it is international politics or diplomacy. According to the neorealist school of thought, survival and security are the primary concerns for the state because the anarchic nature of geopolitics compels the state to survive by seeking security. Consequently, in order to minimize the possibility of any arising threat, states employ various techniques and tactics to ensure their security.
Surveillance and espionage remain the traditional modes of obtaining classified information, deceiving the enemy and subverting its advances. Classical strategists such as Sun-Tzu and Chanakya have hinted at such methods in their ancient writings. However, with the passage of time, these activities have systemically changed. In the world’s current factual matrix, deployment of human spies is not the only the means to carry out espionage because unprecedented technological advancement has facilitated more advanced means of spying. Continue reading
Pakistan is a country where – no matter how corrupt they are – sportsmen are mostly considered to be stars and heroes. But, as in the case of Mumtaz Qadri, there are some instances where murderers have also become heroes. On the other hand, our nation’s dilemma is that it disregards and rebukes those who really deserve appreciation. For example, such tendencies are evidenced in the fact that the majority of Pakistanis do not really remember our only Nobel laureate: the late Abdus Salam. Similarly, the same proclivities can be observed in the case of Malala Yousafzai who has become a worldwide symbol of freedom, democracy, education and women’s rights: she is being praised everywhere for her courage and determination.
Equally, in rival India, Malala is an icon and will be awarded the prestigious Basavashree Award. She has also won the Sakharov Prize and the list of accolades bestowed upon her is too elaborate to comprehensively expand upon in this post. But it is rather lamentable that large swathes of her own country’s population are criticizing, opposing and even abusing her. Continue reading
Historically, the aftermath of the Cold War presented a number of challenges to existing international hegemony. A subsequent variant of such challenges is the rise of international terrorism. Traditionally, wars were mostly considered to be “inter-state” conflicts. But in our unipolar world, wars have been transformed into an “intra-state” phenomenon. Moreover, traditional theories on war fail to address this non-traditional phenomenon which is also increasingly being described as “asymmetric” warfare. Although some theoretical approaches seem valid in light of the above, they need to be modified to properly construe the nature of current wars and conflicts.
Celebrated military strategist Carl von Clausewitz’s work is influential in the field of warfare. In his work On War, von Clausewitz maintained that the best way to weaken your enemy is to attack or capture his “centre of gravity”. From Clausewitz’s perspective it may be argued that, if any state gets the control of the enemy’s centre of gravity then, ultimately, its peripheries will also capitulate. Hence, defeat is inevitable. Continue reading
Although based on English law, our own legal system discriminates so much against minorities that it is shameful. Since a lot of the discrimination (or persecution) is on the basis of religion to balance the scales we hope to post on the sad predicament of our own country soon. But it is interesting to observe that Islamic dress like the niqab is the subject of a great deal of attention abroad. Muslims make up 4.8 per cent of the UK’s population and only a small number of women wear the niqab or burka.
As Pakistanis (and as “Muslims”) we are intrigued by our former coloniser’s obsession with us and so this post analyses the niqab debate which has been raging in the UK. Many people think that the UK should ban the niqab and the burka. On the other hand, some high calibre analysts think that legally singling Muslim women out on the basis of their niqabs may create a new class of victim: one unknown to the UK in the past. Continue reading