In the aftermath of Uri..

Michael Kugelman has this in the The Diplomat about the possibilities in the aftermath of the Uri attack by the Pakistanis. He starts off with reference to the “jingoistic” mood prevalent in India and refers to a viral video  on social media which “threatens” to punish and obliterate Pakistan for its mis – deeds. Well, Mr Kugelman, it indeed encapsulates the mood in India but let me tell you one thing, it is anything but violent. Violence is what the Pakistanis are perpetrating in Kashmir. If India reacts, then it will come down like a tonne of bricks on Pakistan.

Other than the usual, nuclear argument which both nations posses, Kugelman points to the fact that India has limited capabilities to wage one (war).  Research by South Asia security analysts George Perkovich and Toby Dalton, drawing on interviews with Indian military officials, concludes that the “surface attraction” of limited airstrikes is “offset significantly, if not equally, by risks and inadequacies.” Additionally, it contends that “there is vast room for improvement” in intelligence collection capacities. It also asserts that India’s capabilities to stage joint air and land operations are wanting. “Even at the level of exercises,” Perkovich and Dalton write, “the Indian Army and Air Force have not inspired each other’s confidence in their capacity to conduct effective combined operations in realistic warfare conditions.” In effect, India’s military has more than sufficient numbers—only the militaries of the United States and China have more than its 1.3 million active personnel—but less than sufficient capacity.

Another reason he cites is that India lacks sufficient evidence to tie Pakistan to the attack.

He ends with the predictable and stale conclusion of not doing anything as both overt (lack of capability) and covert (fraught with risks) warefare are not in the realm of possibility.

I am sure the Indian bureaucracy and advisors concur with Mr Kugelman. We have been hearing the predictable ‘”diplomatic isolation'” (whatever that means?) of Pakistan. I mean these mandarins should take lessons from the great Chanakya and throw away their Foreign policy 101 manual or whatever crap they read. I mean, is it really possible to “diplomatically isolate” Pakistan??? Duh!! Arent there supposed to be no permanent friends nor enemies and only permanent national interest in Foreign Policy? Look at the Russians. They are in the midst of a joint military exercise with Pakistan of all nations. I mean Russia has crossed the Lakshman Rekha. Arent the Russians driven by national interest? I mean they getting ever close to China. This drill with Pakistani forces was a natural by – product.

India should wake up. National interest is paramount.

Curd anyone?

Excellent piece on the recent Dahi Handi height controvery by Sanu. I was just wondering about this trend of a “random” NGO filing a “random” PIL on some “random” matter in the courts with the consequent court rulings rubbing only one community the wrong way.

Then there is whining about being “overworked” & “understaffed” (well, all of us in the corporate world can vouch for that though ;)) with an “avalanche” of litigations and yet on the other hand they have the time to entertain such litigations? I mean height of dahi handis, weight of school bags (both trivial municipal level matters) as also banning diesel vechicles etc. These are clearly in the domain of the elected.

Then, the more serious issue of having transparency in the selection of higher levels of judiciary. Judiciary, in this case prefers independence over accountability (thought provoking piece!). Anil Dharker in the ToI has this

The writing’s clearly on the wall. Judicial reforms is the crying need of the hour. All the stake holders need to sit together reform the last standing citadel of absolute power. The effectiveness of any institution can be gauged from the faith, the common man has in it. Clearly, the judiciary falls short in this regard as the common man just doesnt stand a chance against the mighty and the well connected with respects to legal disputes as the case invariably would drag on for months, years or even decades !!

Back to the future

Imagine a scene of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) whizzing past your windows as you stand sipping chai. You might even get delivery of your online orders near your window? Sounds impossible? Not entirely. 7 Eleven, A US convenience store,  registered the first legal delivery of an order by a drone to a US resident by delivering a chicken sandwich, coffee, donuts and candies.:)

7 Eleven partnered with drone delivery company Flirtey for providing this amazing service which is bound to revolutionize the logistics space. However, current rules out there dont permit drone deliveries at night as also the drones shouldnt be out of sight from the operator.

India Logistics sector, better watch out!!

 

‘Brexit’icis

Financial markets were gripped with “Brexit” talk and it had an almost fever like grip which culminated on 24th Jun 2016. There was a funny whatsapp message doing the rounds on Friday evening in the aftermath of ‘Brexit’. It read, ‘Italeave’, ‘Fruckoff’, ‘Czechout’, ‘Byegium’, ‘Oustria’ 🙂 indicating the imminent break of the monetary union i.e EU, after Britain became the first country to sever ties from the EU.

Here are some “expert” views on it; Vox has this interesting piece of For Brexit view . George Soros has this to say. Ken Rogoff has this. Brookings has this

As always, the biases of these “experts” should be discounted while forming a view based on their analysis. Washington Post even has this on the distrust of the junta on these experts on Brexit.

Well, I dont mean to wish bad luck to the Brits. But this referendum would seemingly open the floodgates for the Scots, Northern Irish to exit the UK as we know it. Well,  as they say Karma has to catch up.

‘Odd – even’ pilot of Delhi

Politicians are expected to have dollops of showmanship in them. Afterall, its their bread and butter to play to the galleries and tom tom any achievement. Except, in this case though, the Delhi government led by CM Kejriwal has gone one step ahead and introduced a discredited idea as a pilot for around a fortnight in the name of reducing air pollution. And expectedly, when the pilot didnt lead to desired results, Kejriwal patted himself anyway saying that congestion had reduced in Delhi.

Remember, it was the SC that initiated the process of ‘CNG’ isation of vehicles plying for commercial purposes way back in 1998 due to alarming levels of air pollution in the capital city state. That led to the state transport buses fleet, auto / taxi fleet etc being ‘CNG’ ised. Now again the judiciary is campaigning for improvments in the air quality of Delhi as the air quality index is worse than even Beijing. It was in response to this that the Delhi government introduced the “odd – even” rule in Delhi. Essentially, this rule meant that odd digit ending liscense plate numbers would be able to ply only on odd days and likewise for even digit ending liscense plates.

First of all, pvt cars contribute an insignificant amount to the total quantum of particulates. Thus, attacking this source is pointless.

Secondly, experience of cities ranging from Mexico City, Paris, Beijing (authorities had taken many other stringent measures to improve air quality around Beijing Olympics) and a few African cities shows that this rule encourages perverse reaction from the affected public such as corruption at lower levels, increase in car purchases as people would want to buy a ‘secondary car’ since their primary car would be useless half of the time further increasing congestion, fake liscense plates etc.

Thirdly, direct policy actions like the ones in London and Singapore, which have a congestion tax levied during peak hours and in certain areas of the city as also Punitive cascading taxes on second and third cars has been found to be better way to curb pollution. These cities provide excellent public transportation systems as alternatives which no Indian city can boast off (Except Mumbai to an extent, with its excellent suburban train network, local buses, autos / taxis).

There is an interesting thought provoking article on this by Mr Dalmia of the Dalmia Group.

In another article in Reuters, Dr Lucas Davis, in a research paper talks about how the odd – even plan failed to curb pollution levels in Mexico City when it was conducted in 1989. In fact, it led to undesirable outcomes like purchase of secondary vehicles which increased congestion further. What worked was tightening the emission standards which improved the air quality substantially over a period of time.

Incidentally, the central government policy of not passing on the crude decline to consumers and keeping gasoline / diesel expensive and the move to advance BS -6 are steps in the right direction.

Delhi government pilot is nothing more than a publicity stunt whereas the central government move is just what the doctor has ordered.

Temples of India – A perspective

Couldnt think of better topic to start off the new year with.

When one thinks of the education system of the bygone era in India, the gurukul system comes to our minds. What is unknown is that temples were at the forefront of our education system too in the not too distant past, read the pre – British era. Had this tradition continued, may be India would have had its very own version of Duke, Georgetown University etc.  Rather than education factories, India would have had genuine world class institutions of higher learning. Subhash Kak has this wonderful piece here  where he explores this angle.

After temples & the education system, here’s a piece by Madhulika Dash on how Indian temples used to be the epicenter of socio – cultural development. Temple cuisine used to be typically based on the science of Ayurveda and involved a judicious use of spices etc.

If the above was the state of affairs in the not too distant past then what happened over time? This brings us to the topic of temple control in India.  Temples in India, especially the temples in the South are controlled by the government. Here’s a piece on it. Not getting this? Isnt India a secular country? Why does the government have to poke its nose in temple matters? If it wants to control religious institutions why not other religious institutions too ?

Came across on IndiaFact’s this ppt by the Temple Worshippers’ Society based in Chennai.

Temple’s were the epicenter of our civilisation. An entire ecosystem viz. of Nandanvan’s, Kalyanis (water tank), gaoshalas, pathshalas (vedic school’s), arable land, vocation, arts & music developed around it. This has been successfully throttled by the powers that be. It’s time they are freed and allowed to regain their lost glory.

India responds to Pak fire with fire

Well, a breath of fresh air. Defence minister Jaitley, yesterday, said, “the cost of this adventurism would be made unaffordable” if Pak persists with its firing across the IB. Pak retorted with the ‘N’ threat. ToI has more of it here

Apparently, Pak firing started minutes after India bagged the hockey gold at the Incheon Asian Games beating Pakistan. And the firing has since then been relentless.

India’s response comes as a breath of fresh air as it used to hardly raise its voice against such Pak misadventure in the previous regime. In a faceoff, if your opposition has a measure of your response then it could be lethal for you which is exactly what had happened.

Where does this leave the ‘Aman ki Asha’ project initiated by the Jung group of news papers and promoted by the ToI India. Well, no where. Talks, although well meaning, are futile. Nothing can ever come of it. Remember, Pakistan is as much under the influence of its army (along with its secret servie ISI) as its democratically elected government, if not more. So no point talking to its “government”. But remember, both countries possess nuclear weapons. This necessitates India remain cautious and not go on an overt war with Pakistan. Its only choice is covert operations.