Tag Archives: India

Mani Shankar Aiyar: Continuity and Change in India’s Foreign Policy

‘If we don’t talk to Pakistan we will never be able to find a solution…It would be foolish to have cordial relations with Paraguay and just ignore Pakistan’ said the Rajya Sabha member and former diplomat – watch video.

“There is going to be no peace in India or elsewhere except on the basis of freedom,” remained Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s final denouement in The Discovery of India – his third book; written in captivity in Ahmadnagar Fort prison in 1944. Indira Gandhi explained that along with Discovery, Joe’s other books Glimpses of World History and An Autobiography were her close “companions in life”. Indeed, Nehru’s works and political strategy not only influenced his daughter but also inspired political activists in neighbouring Pakistan and elsewhere in the world. Just the other day, India’s government began to declassify secret files to finally settle questions over Subhas Chandra Bose’s death. Bose, a widely admired Congress party frontrunner, aligned his tactics with the Japanese in the 1940s to create a “national army” to fight colonial rule and expel the British from India.

In Discovery, Panditji noted the “astonishing enthusiasm” evoked by the court martial of members of the Indian National Army (INA). In admiration, he remarked that the trial “aroused the country as nothing else had done, and they became the symbols of India fighting for her freedom.” In Nehru’s eyes, INA activists and members, who were in fact his rivals, had “solved the communal problem amongst themselves” because “Hindu, Moslem, Sikh and Christian were all represented”. They had achieved utopia. Or perhaps even Nirvana. Continue reading

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Filed under BJP, Congress, Discussion, Events, Human Rights, India, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Partition, Peace building, Politics

Dr Subir Sinha: ‘London and Us’

If it is ok for Cameron to repeat Modi’s electoral slogan of ‘Achche din zaroor ayenge’ from the Wembley stage, then it is equally legitimate to challenge that narrative on the streets of London …

Shashi Tharoor’s recent op-ed for The Guardian, where he charged PM Modi with damaging India’s reputation worldwide by waging a ‘war on Muslims’ and on tolerance, was slammed by Modi’s fans, accusing him of tarnishing India’s image, and of a PM who works tirelessly to lift India to a position of prosperity and world leadership. To them it amounted to washing the national dirty laundry in the land of the ex-colonizers, raising the question of appropriateness of criticising and protesting against Modi in the UK. Modi’s London trip indicated how the India media, and Modi’s fans, frame that question. Indian journalists, interested primarily in the pageantry arranged for his official and community functions, and the ‘excitement level’ generated by the visit, not in any critique.

One reporter, to whom I suggested that he should also cover the planned anti-Modi protests, said, “sir, I have come to see my PM speak in Parliament, and to attend the rock star event at Wembley, not to waste my time with critics and protests.” However, Modi travels both as the democratically elected PM of India, and as a hero of the Hindu right. These two personae compete with each other, mobilizing bitterly-opposed coalitions. Modi’s admirers want no light shone on the dark patches of his past, invoking ‘clean chits’. They project him as a wise, unifying figure, representing India as a whole Continue reading

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Dr Reeza Hameed: The Case Against the Death Penalty

Following the attack on the APS, Pakistan removed the moratorium on the death penalty. The hangman Albert Pierrepont said capital punishment is “a primitive desire for revenge”. This post looks at the case of Sri Lanka. 

There has been an organised move to bring back the hangman and implement the death penalty in Sri Lanka. Several weeks ago, Colombo District MP Hirunika Premachandra presented in Parliament an adjournment motion for the revival of capital punishment in Sri Lanka. She said that once the motion went through Parliament she would request President Maithripala Sirisena and the government to consider bringing back capital punishment. The motion seems to have been grounded in the member’s belief that capital punishment is the solution to the increasing anti-social and violent activities within the country. An adjournment motion does not end in a vote but some members of the government supported the motion while others spoke against it. In the course of the debate, the Minister of Justice made a statement in the House, confirming the government’s intention to sign the UN moratorium in November 2016. Subsequent to his statement in Parliament, the Minister was reported to have said that the moratorium on the penalty will continue but it will not be abolished.

The death penalty is a cruel, inhuman or degrading form of punishment and it should be eliminated from the statute books. It is pre-meditated killing by the state. Curiously, even before the fair member had tabled her motion in Parliament, the Prison Commissioner had advertised the vacancies for the post of hangman and refurbished the gallows at the Welikade Prison. In the vernacular, a hangman is referred to as vadhaka, commonly known as ‘alugosuwa’, a word which is of Portuguese origin (algoz). Continue reading

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Gauri Khandekar: Modi’s Foreign Policy Mantra: Geoeconomics, Regional Hegemony, Global Aspirations

As an emerging power with global aspirations, India must first befit a regional power

Within just six months in power, Narendra Modi has managed to induce a dramatic overhaul of India’s hitherto muffled and ill-defined foreign policy, and has dramatically increased his country’s global profile. Successful summits with the BRICS grouping (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), Japan, China, Nepal and Bhutan were topped off with a high-profile visit to the United States (US) from 27-30 September. Modi’s US visit was his most interesting foreign trip: barred from entry to the US for nine years because of accusations over his role in the Gujarat massacre of 2002, the red carpet to the White House was rolled out. Modi received a ‘rockstar’ reception in the US, especially from Americans of Indian origin, for example addressing 18,000 people at Madison Square Gardens in New York.

Unlike his predecessors, Modi has underscored foreign policy as a priority from the beginning alongside a strong mandate to put India’s economy in order. Modi aspires to re-invigorate India’s emerging power status, which suffered in recent years due to poor economic growth. He has not only injected focus and ambition into India’s foreign policy, but also linked it directly to his plan to transform India’s economy. Launched in September 2014, ‘Make in India’ has become Narendra Modi’s signature programme Continue reading

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Dr Masuma Hasan: Indian Journalists in PIIA

An 18-member delegation of Indian journalists from the Mumbai Press Club visited PIIA on 17 November 2011. They were introduced by B.M. Kutty, a pioneer of peace between Pakistan and India and a member of the Council of PIIA. The women journalists in the delegation did not join us because they were visiting Aurat Foundation, the leading women’s empowerment organisation in Pakistan. I am a member of the Board of Governors and Treasurer of Aurat Foundation but was amazed that not only men but also women could subscribe to gender exclusivity! We would have liked to meet the women journalists and hear their impressions about Pakistan.

The Indian delegation was led by Jatinbabu Desai of the Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy. In his introductory remarks, he spoke about the need to break down barriers and bring the people of Pakistan and India together through more interaction between ordinary citizens. There was the usual Indian view about how we share the same historical and cultural experience. In the Indian delegation and among our own members there were many, including myself, whose ancestral roots were in the other country. Everybody spoke about the need for mutual understanding, increasing trade and communication and people-to-people contacts. Continue reading

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