Nuclear Controversy

Whether India’s bomb exploded or not? This is the new controversy created by some of the eminent nuclear scientists. Although this kind of trouble brewed during the first nuclear tests. It is crucial to clear these doubts soon.

The Times of India writes (26 September 2009)

The controversy over whether the Pokhran tests of 1998 were a “fizzle” is nothing new. Prime Minister Morarji Desai reportedly asserted that Pokhran
I in 1974 was nothing more than a large explosion of conventional devices, while others asserted the yield then was less than that claimed by our scientists. The two most prominent scientists involved in the 1974 test were Raja Ramanna and P K Iyengar. Interestingly, Ramanna, who was associated as a member of the Atomic Energy Commission with the 1998 tests, validated claims about their success. Iyengar, however, expressed doubts about the claim that the second “boosted fission” device had a yield of 43 kilotonnes.

The only known comprehensive international study of Pokhran 1998 was based on data of 125 seismic stations across the world. This study, carried out by seismologist Roger Clark of the University of Leeds, validated the claims of Indian scientists associated with the test. The major implication of this controversy is that while there are very few demanding that India should immediately conduct further nuclear tests, the government will find it difficult to close options, by signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Even as this controversy raged in India, the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) declared that Pakistan, which according to latest estimates possesses 70-90 nuclear weapons, is set to rapidly expand its arsenal, with work nearing completion on two large plutonium reactors. Pakistan could double its nuclear arsenal, with lighter plutonium warheads within a decade. The FAS study also revealed that Pakistan is ready to deploy the Chinese origin Shaheen II missile, capable of hitting urban centres in distant corners of India and cruise missiles to counter Indian missile defences. It is now well established that the reactors and reprocessing facilities for Pakistan’s new generation of nuclear weapons and its ballistic and cruise missiles are all of Chinese origin. The instruction manuals of nuclear weapons designs given by A Q Khan to Libya were in the Mandarin language!

Pakistan’s intention to rapidly expand its nuclear arsenal was clear when its ambassador to the UN Committee on Disarmament in Geneva recently blocked proposals for the early conclusion of a treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons (FMCT). This move came just after the US Military Academy at West Point published a report revealing that three nuclear weapons related facilities the Wah ordnance factory, the Kamra air base and the Sargodha weapons storage facility had been attacked by suspected jihadis. Why is it necessary for Pakistan to build such a huge and potentially unsafe arsenal when its Punjab and North West Frontier Province are vulnerable to attacks by jihadi groups?

The head of Pakistan’s strategic forces command Lt Gen Khalid Kidwai has indicated that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is “aimed solely at India” and will come into play only if an Indian attack either makes deep inroads into Pakistan’s urban centres, or significantly degrades its army and air force. Since neither of these scenarios is plausible, why does Pakistan need such a large arsenal?

The rationale for Pakistan’s quest for nuclear weapons was outlined by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto after he decided on January 19, 1972 that Pakistan had to acquire nuclear weapons. Bhutto held that after the Bangladesh debacle in December 1971, it was imperative for Pakistan to acquire nuclear weapons to counter the conventional capabilities of a much larger India. Bhutto also noted that while the “Christian, Jewish and Hindu civilisations” had nuclear weapons capability, it was “Islamic civilisation” alone that did not possess nuclear weapons. Bhutto asserted that he would be remembered as the man who had provided the “Islamic civilisation” with “full nuclear capability”. Libyan and Saudi Arabian funding of Bhutto’s “nuclear vision” is well documented, as is Pakistan’s supply of nuclear weapons know-how and equipment to Iran and Libya.

The Bush White House revealed that Pakistani nuclear scientists, Suleiman Asad and Al Mukhtar, had extensive discussions in Kandahar, on radiological dispersal devices, with Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden. Two associates of A Q Khan, Sultan Bashiruddin Mehmood and Chaudhuri Abdul Majeed, were detained for clandestine contacts with the al-Qaeda and Taliban. Mehmood publicly advocated transfer of nuclear weapons to other Islamic countries and echoing Bhutto, described Pakistan’s nuclear capability as the property of the whole “Ummah” (Muslim world).

While General Kidwai, who now controls Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, belongs to a generation of officers commissioned before the fundamentalist General Zia-ul Haq ushered in a new generation of more religiously oriented officers, the control of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons will inevitably shift to military officers and scientists who tend to regard their nuclear arsenal as an asset of the Islamic world. Pakistan’s nukes might fall not just into the hands of jihadis, but there is also the prospect of cash-strapped Pakistan transferring nuclear weapons, or providing nuclear guarantees to countries like Saudi Arabia, as it seeks more influence and leverage in an oil-rich Islamic world, which is engulfed by rivalry between Shia-dominated Iran and the Wahhabi-oriented Saudis.

The writer is a former high commissioner to Pakistan nuclear-test-in-the-south-pacific


China’s sixty years of republic: How much public in it?

China is celebrating its sixty years of its People’s Republic. In all these years how much people had a say in governance is a matter of serious introspection. But the heros of Chinese growth to the global superpower can justify their pass misdeeds and human rights violations showing the present status and future possibilities. It has to be watched how far these claims are going to be true.

Milinda Liu writes in The Times of India (28 September 2009)

years after the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the country has undergone astounding changes. Beijing’s achievements are still more impressive when you consider that for nearly half of those 60 years, politics had taken China on a detour away from economic development, responsible governance and engagement with much of the rest of the world.
Thirty years ago, nobody imagined China could become the world’s third largest economy, that Beijing and Taipei would transcend long-standing hostility. Nobody predicted Chinese leaders would travel the world to lavish welcomes, because their arrival brought the prospect of investment, trade, aid and perhaps even salvation from the financial crisis of the time.

Nearing its 60th birthday, the People’s Republic of China is at the crossroads. Now it has spent exactly half its national life pursuing the sort of free market economic “reforms” perceived as radical departures when first introduced by Deng Xiaoping.
After 30 years of what Deng called “reform and opening up”, or ‘gaige kaifang’, China is ready for a new era of change. It needs a new model to address some negative effects ‘gaige kaifang’ has brought. From battling environmental degradation to mending the rift between rich and poor, from tackling corruption to re-examining foreign trade practices the international community perceives to be mercantilist, China’s challenges are many.

In years past, the media sometimes nicknamed China’s political sensitivities as “the three Ts”: Tiananmen, Tibet, Taiwan. A decade ago another taboo topic was added; the list became “three T’s and an F”, to include the emergence of the religious sect Falungong.
Today Falungong is barely on society’s radar. Many young Chinese have little idea about what happened in Tiananmen Square 20 years ago. Tibet is a source of political tensions, but today those types of frictions derive from new economic realities and extend far beyond Tibet. And Taiwan? For much of society, Taiwan is seen as a source of popular music, tourists and investment, no longer the adversary Mao Zedong faced off against 60 years ago.

China faces fresh challenges: how to foster creativity, and how to control Han Chinese chauvinism. For all its manufacturing muscle, scientists and engineers, China is not yet perceived as a centre for technological innovation. One problem is the educational system.
It focuses on rote learning and hierarchical thinking. Another is lack of adequate synergies between government, academia, industry and capital. For nearly 15 years the government has had something called the “863 project”, intended to channel state funds and policy support behind an effort to develop, buy, borrow or steal modern technologies.
Yet a funny thing happened. It dawned on Beijing that many Chinese students and engineers who’d spent time overseas could bring back a whole new mindset. If China’s academic system is too big and unwieldy to change totally, at least some Chinese returnees can be wooed back to run labs and other facilities where people can be trained to think outside the box.

The future of Chinese innovation may depend partly on the contribution of these returnees they’re called “sea turtles” or ‘haigui’, in a pun on the phrase referring to Chinese who went abroad and then returned. Thousands of these “sea turtles” are already working in labs, universities, companies and R&D centres in China. Two ministers are “sea turtles”, one at the ministry of science and technology and another at the ministry of health.

I am not equally optimistic about how or whether Beijing can solve the challenge of growing Han Chinese chauvinism. As China has grown more assertive in the world, Chinese have grown more confident and proud about not just their state but also their race.
The result: a surge in what some call “patriotism” and others call “nationalism” a deep pride in being Chinese and, sometimes, a resentment of members of other races perceived to be slighting the Chinese people. In some cases, this has worked in the government’s short-term interests. When unrest broke out last year in Tibet and Xinjiang, ordinary citizens supported the government’s eventual suppression of protests by Tibetans and Uighurs and virulently opposed foreign critics of the Chinese government.

Civil unrest has served to strengthen the government’s hand by consolidating grassroots Han Chinese support behind the regime. Today, we see how that dynamic can boomerang. Han Chinese residents in Xinjiang recently took to the streets in protest against local government authorities, demanding hasher action against ethnic Uighurs accused of attacking Han Chinese with syringes. The result of rising chauvinism may be that cracking down against ethnic Uighurs or Tibetans is seen as the less risky alternative to cracking down on Han Chinese.

How Beijing deals with the surge of ethnic Chinese chauvinism or nationalism could be a test of the country’s remarkable achievements. The government must use wisdom and foresight to accommodate Chinese pride without alienating the ethnic minorities and without alarming the international community which is hoping to see China grow into a superpower that is as responsible as it is rich.

The writer is Beijing bureau chief of an international news magazine. china_0928

Family Politics in India

Politics is always a tricky business. Those who are involved especially in India have to sweat it out. There are very few families which can take a cool walk in the Indian politics.

The Times of India writes (28 September 2009)

Noble vocations are the manifest destiny of many a neta’s offspring. Look at Maharashtra. When party tickets to fight elections are given to ‘kin’dred souls, it’s thanks to a kinship less of blood than of the sweat and tears that go into public service. Inspiringly, kids, grandkids, nephews and nieces of luminaries like the president and assorted people’s representatives are entering or aspire to enter the assembly poll fray. The bad press they’re getting for it is unfair. The child shouldn’t pay for the sins (or bills) of the father; in politics, the favour’s usually done the other way round. Why, then, must political GenNext be told ‘no-kin-do’ about a line of duty pa or grandpa chose? Why wait till kin-dom come to fulfil a higher calling?

As Friends of Kin say, the hereditary principle applies to everything under the son. Take the triumvirate doctor-lawyer-engineer that’s pursued in the marriage market. Doctors’ children become doctors, and it’s not just to get the best brides. Shaadi-related monopolies stand shaken in any case due to post-slowdown job insecurity. Forget doctor & co, even golden babalog like phoren-settled IT engineers or bankers have been replaced by humble babulog as eligible bachelors. Like blondes, government servants now have more fun. That’s thanks not only to Sixth Pay Commission generosity but also the babus’ sinecure…er, secure…posts.

Besides, in 21st century India, people no longer wear job-linked straitjackets. There’s eased professional mobility. The employment market is so diversified, the call of political duty even goes unheeded. Else, a potential political heir wouldn’t step into Rakhi Sawant’s stilettos rather than his dad’s kohlapuris. Clearly, the Great Indian Wedding is itself now a televised career option. Just think: picking out a dulha or dulhaniya and getting paid for it! More, swayamvar or biwi-hunt assignments don’t end with getting hitched. Getting unhitched and rehitched to the power of infinity is on hire as well.

Again, a political heavyweight in Maharashtra has an actor-son; a similar biggie in Bihar has a cricketer-son. Neither Junior has scored big yet, but neither desires vote-garnering as a job alternative. Finally, with the wrecking of the old work-linked caste system, greybeards too have professional wanderlust. A political veteran recently renounced mute membership of his strife-torn party, becoming an idol breaker-cum-bestseller writer. Refusing to say “Jinnah yahan, darna yahan”, he took the plunge. So, political dynasty is doubtless a venerable institution. But its babylog on vocation should realise politics isn’t always Naukri No. 1. jagan

Pittsburgh Message for G20

In the past very global summits have produced desired results. The just concluded G 20 summit in Pittsburgh should be one of among the failed past summits. The world leaders gathered must live up to the global expectations and sort out the pending problems like economic crisis and climate change. If this opportunity is lost then the people will also lose their faith in these kinds of summits in the future.

The Times of India writes (28 September 2009)

Move over, G-8. From now on, G-20 is the ”premier forum” for global economic cooperation. That’s the message from the Pittsburgh summit of developed and major developing nations. Cynics mock the too-many-cooks approach to economic firefighting and decision-making that they claim will result.
But others hail the change, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh many of whose policy prescriptions appeared in the final communique. Indeed, the worst downturn since the Great Depression is reason enough to go beyond the symbolism of G-20’s elevation. Status quoists forget that the world has been executing an economic bailout demanding all hands on deck. That’s why managing a crisis triggered by Wall Street’s meltdown has seen China and India push growth vigorously, doing their bit to keep the world economy from tanking.

Thanks to their growing clout, China, India and Brazil need a prominent place in any international decision-making architecture. Given emerging economies account for around half the world’s output, only pretension can drive G-8’s claim to calling the shots.
It’s good that a levelling framework will allow G-20 countries to work together to ensure their policies promote sustainable, balanced growth. G-20 also did well to agree to shift a higher percentage of IMF’s quota share to developing countries. Since IMF will keep tabs on global economic stability, it can’t remain associated with a few rich nations.

G-20 rightly backs a rebalancing of US-China economic ties. For years now, the US has seen inflated import bills while China has ridden on trade surpluses. America pledging to reduce debt-fuelled spending and China committing to boost domestic demand isn’t just a G-2 affair. The action the two sides take will be critical for future global stability.
There was consensus as well on an issue strongly pushed by India: stimulus measures will stay for now. While G-20 can pat its back for preventing a recession from turning into a depression, it’s too early to end rescue operations. Exit strategies may be globally coordinated but, for now, countries need more than green shoots to sign on.

Multilateral consensus-building is always work in progress. Broad guidelines were adopted to raise regulatory standards for financial institutions, with the Financial Stability Board assigned to mark progress. But there was some discord on bankers’ pay and banks’ capital requirements. It’s, however, debatable whether there can be rigid global prescriptions in such matters.
There was also talk about resisting protectionism, but many nations haven’t walked this talk. Overall, the summit formally initiated the move away from an economic governance structure straddled by an elite club of rich industrialised nations. Economic diplomacy has to reflect 21st century realities, and that’s where Pittsburgh scores. The-skyline-of-downtown-P-001