How the Modi-Adani link hurts defence indigenization

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[Gopal Adani and Prime Minister Modi]

In democracies, successful politicians reward their financiers, the money bags who helped them on their way up. This is a different type of beneficiary than the one who opens up his purse to fill the coffers after the ruling party is ensconced. The former kind comprises in some sense visionaries who espy the potential in select politicians and are willing to back their hunch. They are risk-takers, because what they do involves possibly alienating the political competition not so favoured by them. But should the bet come good, it doesn’t just rain goodies, it pours.

The Adani Family is headed by Gautam, who vaulted from a small-time polyvinyl plastics importer in the 1980s to head a $12 billion global conglomerate with diverse interests ranging from mining, energy, to infrastructure today. The Adani Group is in this happy position because of Gautam’s knack for political…

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New opportunities that will be wasted

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[Kovind and Duterte]

This past fortnight, I was away, participating in the Yushan Forum 2019 in Taipei — an annual effort by the Taiwanese government to forge regional partnerships in the face of unrelentingly punitive policies of the communist China regime to isolate Taiwan, and thence to Istanbul where I sensed considerable unease among the people about the turn Erdogan’s war with the Syrian Kurds may be taking, especially after the videos telecast by CNN showing wanton killings and other atrocities on unarmed civilian Kurds by the Turkish-supported militia in the van of the action. While Ankara, with its critical buy of the S-400 air defence system may have gained some slight capacity to water down Russia’s enthusiasm for the joint front comprising its new found partners — the indefatigable Kurds, and its old ally — Assad’s army, which’s fetching up for a fight, things on the ground may spiral…

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In Vladivostok, in a clinch or for convenience?

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[uh-oh! Putin to Modi!]

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will soon be in Vladivostok, there to attend an Economic Conference as chief guest. That the Russian President Vladimir Putin is hosting the Indian leader for a second such summit — the last time was in the former’s stomping ground, St. Petersburg, suggests that despite the Modi regime signaling Delhi’s closeness to the US at every turn, Moscow still espies some utility in having India figure prominently in its great power political game. And, of course, to have the Russian defence industry continue to benefit from such major arms sales as may fructify.

After all, Putin has been spectacularly successful, even though playing with a weak economic card, to push America geopolitically into a corner. He has stymied the US in the Middle East by simultaneously drawing Erdogan’s Turkey into its military sphere of influence with the foot-in-the-door sale of S-400 anti-aircraft…

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Endgame Tidbits re: two mascots; and Yeti(?)

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[the late Parrikar and Jaitley in healthier times]

Returned from a 3 week sojourn abroad. Picked up small but telling bits of information on the end-state of two leading political personalities and personal mascots of Prime Minister Narendra Modi — the former Defence Minister, the late Mahohar Parrikar, and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, both afflicted with cancer.

According to a doctor at Sloan-Kettering in New York — a leading cancer treatment hospital, who attended on both Parrikar and Jaitley, the former was in a very bad way but insisted that he be moved to Goa in the terminal stage, which required some very elaborate arrangements to ensure he didn’t succumb to the rigours of the journey inherent in moving a very sick and weak man half way across the globe. What was unusual, according to this oncologist, was Parrikar’s emphatic insistence that he not die in a foreign land, far…

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Asia Society, New York: Q&A: Bharat Karnad on India’s ‘Inept’ Foreign Policy

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[This piece by Anubhav Gupta, Assistant Director, Asia Society Policy Institute, New York, uploaded to the Asia Society website on May 7, 2019, at ]

With India in the throes of the world’s largest exercise in democracy, Indians and the international community are assessing the performance of its incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The conventional wisdom about Modi’s first term in office has generally been: disappointing on the economic and social fronts; generally successful on foreign affairs. Some analysts have even credited Modi for ushering a bolder and more engaged foreign policy.

A recent book throws cold water on such assessments. In the opening pages of Staggering Forward: Narendra Modi and India’s Global Ambition, author and Indian national security expert Bharat Karnad describes Modi’s foreign policy as “inept” and “short-sighted.” The book makes the case that Modi has been anything but bold on the international stage. While…

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What’s in store

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Here’s all you need to know about Indian elections

The bulk of the general elections involving most of the country is over; the votes sealed in the EVMs as well as the fates of the contestants  Delhi area votes tomorrow. The thoughtful among the citizenry must have wracked their brains about which political party to favour and  whom to elect to office.  The fact is there are no good options — this being plainly a referendum on Narendra Modi. Indeed, the prime minister has said so that a vote for the “kamal” is an endorsement of him personally and his tenure in office. But are we all aware of the gravity of the situation and what’s at stake?

Modi has disappointed, failing to achieve a radical makeover of the government that he had promised in 2014. Further, he has been less the hard nationalist that we had every right to expect than the believer in the fuzzy-wuzzy “Wuhan spirit”…

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Why is India’s national interest hostage to US’ Iran policy?

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The fears I have long voiced are coming true. The US is ramping up its combative rhetoric, talking up the non-existent Iran threat to the region, coercing its friends into  complying with its demand to zero out oil/gas imports from Iran and otherwise insisting that everybody  join in applying “maximum pressure” in the hope that this will, if not lead to a regime change — wishful American thinking than, at a minimum, to Tehran renegotiating the 2015 nuclear  deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) to secure an indefinite extension of the Iranian nuclear  weapons-related inactivity limited by JCPOA to just a 15 year- time frame.

The “bazaari” tilt of the mindset of the ruling ayatollahs means Iran and the US will eventually reach a compromise. But during this testing time, Tehran will discover who its friends are. So, while Tehran’s economic ties with the US will rapidly mend because, well…

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Big Carriers Are a Bad Idea

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 | Point of View

The big carrier is a big mistake. In a milieu bristling with proliferating supersonic, and soon hypersonic, anti-ship missiles, aircraft carriers don’t stand a chance.

Importing wrong weapons platforms has consequences beyond stretching the scarce defence rupee. Besides kicking the indigenous R&D and defence industry in the gut and being a perennial financial drain with lifetime costs many times the initial acquisition price, it locks the country into an inappropriate force structure whose frailties are quickly shown up in war. Securing them also leaves little money to obtain less glitzy but more appropriate and necessary fighting assets.

The Indian Air Force, with the cost-effective option of the upgraded Su-30MKI produced at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) on the table, opted for the manifestly redundant Rafale fighter plane worth Rs 69,000 crore. Four hundred and sixty…

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Don’t expect anything very different from Modi in his 2nd term

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Narendra Modi has been returned to power with a bang by the people. Despite a record of tepid success in the domestic and economic spheres at home and timidity abroad, except when it comes to Pakistan where he has roared like a lion mainly because he faced a mouse, the Indian voters apparently selected him as the default option. This was a wise thing to do considering the opposition that when not promising chaos and family-driven corruption, complacently relied on the caste arithmetic to hoist them into power only to discover that the negatives attending on the likes of Mayawati,  Mamata, Rahul-Priyanka Gandhi, and Akhilesh Yadav far outweighed in the mind of the electorate any real good they said they’d deliver.

However, the thing in the prime minister’s victory speech about Indian politics, besides contending that the election results had written finis to the caste-based and dynastic dynamic,  would hereafter…

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