Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Greeks Initiate Revolt against Neo-liberal Capitalism



Greeks Initiate Revolt against Neo-liberal Capitalism


Since the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1990 and the socialist and scientific socialism practiced in USSR ,eastern Europe and elsewhere, corporate interests and warmongers, led by USA and Europe and supported by petrol pumps in the Gulf have run amok bringing death and destruction around the world, especially in greater Middle East and North Africa. The apparent defeat of science has led to rise of extreme religious elements and obscurantism all over the world including USA and India.


A bright and welcome wind of change is the latest the polls in which the Greek leftist Syriza party led by Alexis Tsipras has turned the tables on the historical march of exploitation, loot and criminal acts, led by Western financiers, banks, military industry complex and other corporate interests with the help from the so-called elected leaders in USA, UK and elsewhere. These leaders are nothing but puppets in the hand of bankers who look after them even well after retirement and finance their elections in USA, UK and elsewhere. The suffering masses of Greece have shown that this much and no more.


"Greece leaves behind five years of humiliation and suffering, fear and authoritarianism," says Syriza party leader, Alexis Tsipras.


The head of Greece's far-left Syriza party, Alexis Tsipras, has been sworn in as prime minister and is set to lead an anti-austerity coalition government. Turning up for the ceremony without a tie, the leftist leader took the oath less than 24 hours after winning the general election on an anti-austerity platform .Earlier; he formed a coalition with the centre-right Independent Greeks.


European Commission head Jean-Claude Junker has reminded him of the need to "ensure fiscal responsibility". European Central Bank has provided a stimulus of US$ One Trillion (USA's is around $ 3 trillion) but Euro is not a reserve currency like US $ (though being diluted by many trade deals in bilateral currencies instead of Dollars)


The Syriza leader has vowed to renegotiate the bailouts, which are worth €240bn (£179bn; $268bn)


Tsipras will now try to lead an anti-austerity revolution, backed by a strong democratic mandate.

He said in his victory speech that he is willing to negotiate with Greece's European partners. The question is: how much are they prepared to compromise with him?


Syriza wants to reverse cuts in public services and increase salaries and pensions again. It wants to write off a large chunk of Greece's huge public debt, most of which it now owes to other governments in the euro-zone.

In my article "Commonwealth Games Unveil India's Culture of Corruption" of August 2010, I had referred to Greek Economic Crisis follows $ 12 Billion 2004 Athens Olympics

 Were Athens 2004 Olympic Games, the beginning of the Greek Economic Crisis

Even at the time of the 2004 Athens Olympic, the Greek media was full of reports of massive corruption ie, inflation and rigging up of the costs and wrong doings. There appears to be similar pattern in 2010 CWG.

Writing in Aljazeera.net of 10 May 2010 Mark Cochran said that in the biggest multilateral economic bailout ever attempted over the next three years, Greece will receive $146 billion from Euro-zone countries and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to lift the bankrupt country out of its debt crisis. But Greece's fundamental problems remain unresolved: corruption and massive tax avoidance which fuels the black economy. Popular anger is growing because of the tax rises, wage reductions and savage public spending cuts required as part of the Euro zone/IMF deal.

Blaming the Olympics

Many Athenians believe their economic downfall began with the 12 billion Euros spent hosting the 2004 Olympic games. The world-class sporting facilities now lie largely abandoned.

Costas Bakouris, now the corruption watch dog who ran the Athens Olympics Committee said,

"I have seen many assessments of what it takes to make, let's say, a 15,000 seat stadium and I have seen how much it cost Barcelona and Atlanta and how much it was in Sydney and the estimate we used to have in Greece for some of those, it was anywhere between 50 per cent more to four times more," he says.

"So therefore I knew that there was probably a lot of corruption and other things and therefore it cost a hell of a lot more."

There is a saying that Greece is a poor country full of rich people. As the good times rolled through the 1990s and soft loans and grants poured in from the European Union, fashion was just one industry that boomed.

What makes news is how many Porsches, Bentleys, Mercedes and Ferrari were sold in Greece. It is the easy money from EU 1980s which created a culture of wheeling and dealing rather than hard work guaranteed wealth. He says that a generation or more of Greeks have been lost to that mentality. (In India, where 70% of population subsists on less than a dollar per day, with India's neo-liberal policies favoring the rich and the crooks, you have private jets, helipads, yachts and huge mansions costing US$ Two billion).

Tax evasion is now a national sport and fuelling the black economy. "The rich people don't pay taxes. There's an old saying in Greece – the more money you steal the better off you are. If you steal a few Euros, a few hundred Euros you go to jail ... you steal thousands of Euros, we'll talk about it ... you steal a few million Euros you become a hero," said  Kyriakousis , a taxi driver in Athens.

Such people do not understand that consistent hard work, competitiveness, efficiency, and innovation which pays not wheeling and dealing

'War against governments'

Greece's "nonsense bureaucracy" means that in certain instances, 25 people have to vet one piece of paper to get something agreed to and they have to be bribed. Small business permits, even basic services, such as getting a drivers license or treatment in a public hospital often require an illegal payment called fakelaki

The government has now announced a range of austerity measures - wages and pensions will be cut, taxes increased and government spending slashed. Public servants face 10 per cent pay cuts and an end to early retirement in their forties .Tens of thousands of Greeks have taken to the street to protest against the government's measures.

Hope can be a powerful thing


Yes, Syriza is bound to face some setbacks, including with difficulties in governing.


But many Greeks voted for the party for the first time for a simple reason - they offered hope. And in politics, hope can be a powerful thing.(As in India, where Indians disgusted with the brazen loot and chicanery of the ruling parties , it still goes on in most states ,voted for Modi's BJP .But sofa Modi has mostly performed as a Rock star , he must soon deliver on his promises .Crony appointments and capitalism continue .Only hope is the rising and popular Aam Aadmi party, Aap led by a MK Gandhi like Arvind Kejriwal , scrupulously honest , ascetic ,a fascinating popular leader wearing honesty on his sleeves , with a glint in his eyes and driven by desire to usher in honesty ,openness and public accounting of leaders .


Indian Bollywood films


A similar case of Argentina below,  reminds me of the Indian Bollywood films of 1950s and 1960s which reflected the plight of poor small farmers ( Do Bigha Zemin) , who took loans due to famine or for marriage etc from the village Baniya ,the loan shark .After many songs and dances to please the audience the loan shark was killed .


Presently Bollywood ( now that Bombay has become Mumbai and all films must have attractive and sexy molls ,why not call Mumbai films industry Mollywood ) films have the hero fighting villains , many times, corrupt politicians or their accomplices and with latest techniques of film making about crashes and trick photography , the hero quite often ,an honest and well body built  police officer gets the villains and also his girl friend , a sex candy , with an item number , a revealing and voluptuous dance number  thrown in .In real life the politicians with their cronies continue to rule in India's unrepresentative electoral system .The films only provide group therapy to the audience inside the theatre while outside the criminals masquerading as leaders continue to have their sway .An election only votes in another bunch of brazen group of politicians.



Greece's case is similar to that of Argentina and a few other states .Argentina  began a process of debt restructuring on January 14, 2005, that allowed it to resume payment on the majority of the USD82 billion in sovereign bonds that defaulted in 2002 at the depth of the worst economic crisis in the country's history. A second debt restructuring in 2010 brought the percentage of bonds out of default to 93%, though ongoing disputes with holdouts remained. Bond holders, who participated in the restructuring, accepted repayments of around 30% of face value and deferred payment terms, and began to be paid punctually; the value of their bonds also began to rise. The remaining 7% of bondholders later won the right to be repaid in full


As part of the restructuring process, Argentina drafted agreements in which repayments would be handled through a New York corporation and governed by United States law. The holdout bondholders found themselves unable to seize Argentine sovereign assets in settlement, but realized that Argentina had omitted to provide for holdout situations and had instead deemed all bonds repayable on pari passu (equal) terms that prevented preferential treatment among bondholders. The holdout bondholders therefore sought, and won, an injunction in 2014 that prohibited Argentina from repaying the 93% of bonds that had been renegotiated, unless they simultaneously paid the 7% holdouts their full amount due as well.


Together with the agreement's Rights Upon Future Offers ("RUFO") clause, this created a deadlock in which the 93% of renegotiated bondholders could not be paid without paying the 7% holdouts, but any payment to the holdouts would potentially (according to Argentina) trigger the 93% being due repayment at full value too; a sum of around $100 billion which Argentina could not afford. The courts ruled that as Argentina had itself drafted the agreement, and chosen the terms it wished to propose, it could not now claim the terms were unreasonable or unfair, and that this could not be worked around by asserting sovereign status since the injunction did not affect sovereign assets, but simply ruled that Argentina must not give preferential treatment of any group of bondholders over any other group when making repayments.


Subsequently, though Argentina wanted to repay some creditors, the judgment prevented Argentina from doing so, because being forced to repay all creditors, including the holdouts, would have totaled around $100 billion. The country was therefore categorized as being in selective default by Standard & Poor's and in restricted default by Fitch. The ruling affected New York Law Argentine bonds; Argentine bonds issued under Buenos Aires and European Law was not affected.


 Proposed solutions include seeking waivers of the RUFO clause from bondholders, or waiting for the RUFO clause to expire at the end of 2014. The dilemma raised concerns internationally about the ability of a small minority to forestall an otherwise-agreed debt restructuring of an insolvent country, [ and the ruling that led to it was widely criticized both within the United States and internationally.


Neo-liberal capitalism with the top rich 1% holding as the rest of wealth is not human destiny


US capitalists describe the inequality as a result of hard work –Rubbish .Brahmins in India including pseudo Brahmins ie Kayasthas , Khatris and Menons and neo Brahmins like ruling families of Yadavas, Lals of Haryana ,Reddy's and Raos and Bhadralok describe the increasing inequality as bad Karma in previous life .Utter nonsense .


With all the faults ,destruction along with human progress, surely the goal of one percent rich controlling as much of wealth and power as the rest of the masses in the world was never the goal of philosophers , religious and political leaders and reformers. The current period is probably one of the darkest periods in human history. Even compared to days when absolute rule was the norm. Jokers like Fukuyama, after the collapse of the Soviet Union claimed end of history, these are supposed to be philosophers of neoliberal capitalism.


What the Greeks are doing perhaps is what they had done for millennia, before and after the death of Christ, civilizing and liberating Europe East of Bosporus, the British Islands and further West. The author feels very strongly and has written that what the Europeans call Western civilisations derived from the Greeks is a hoax.


The Greek civilisation is nothing more than an extension of Eastern civilisations which evolved in the river valleys of Euphrates, Tigris, Amu Darya, and Syr Darya, Khorasan and Sindhu and Sharaswati valleys. Philosophy and thought in East had developed to a much higher level than in Greece or the West .The Greeks were civilized by Asian rulers, philosophers in what is now Turkey and known earlier as Anatolia and Asia Minor.


As there was little comparable civilisation in Western Europe and certainly USA in pre Christian era, they claim that their civilisation, culture and thought originates from the Greeks of Aegean and Asia Minor (Turkey).  According to them, Greek civilisation and culture evolved and flourished in Crete and evolved when Greeks (pirates) coming from the Aegean islands settled on the west coast of Asia Minor (called Ionia-Yunnan) Therefore Minoan civilisation of Crete forms the basis of Greek and hence Western civilisation.  

It is too simplistic and illogical, if not downright absurd. Why not Cyprus, Malta, Sicily?  At that time, there were flourishing civilisations in Egypt, Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Persia, Sogdiana and India. Persian Empire extended up to western Turkish coast with Sardis as its outpost. Most Greek city states in Asia Minor were under the Persians, who could cross over the Dardanelles or the Bosporus at will or occupy Greek lands.  The first Greek victory over Persians is celebrated as Marathon race in sports.  The first victory of the West over East!  

Cretian civilisation is derived from Egyptian and Phoenician.  Both are indebted to Mesopotamian, verily the mother of all civilisations, which evolved mostly between Tigris in Euphrates in Iraq and southeast Turkey.  The evolution in human progress took off six millennia ago.  But fourth millennia BC was remarkable, not only in Mesopotamia but in the Nile valley and the Indus Valley. From family units polity developed into villages and cities, kingdoms and empires.  The cities were ruled by a god and in his name by the king.  To begin with, the first deity was Earth, Mother Goddess. Civilisations in Mesopotamia were created by Sumerians, Babylonians, Akkadians, Assyrians and others. Nile got cylindrical seals from Mesopotamia and the beginnings of writing.  The Nile civilisation is magnificent, well preserved but unidirectional and flourished in isolation, without the stimulus of exchange.  

What goes in the name of democracy in the world now is nothing more than the intermediate stage between feudal, mediaeval, authoritarian, kingdoms and real democracy, which really does not exist anywhere. In between had come tyranny, of those elected and electable. Once someone got elected by hook or crook, he misused his power to be re-elected or made sure that his family or political party with similar ideology continue to be re-elected again and again because of the power ;political, economic and military it had acquired.


K.Gajendra Singh .27 January, 2015 .Delhi 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Political Leaders and Debating skills ; Delhi Assembly elections 2015


Political Leaders and Debating skills

Delhi Assembly elections 2015:


Ms Kiran Bedi, BJP's Chief Minister (CM) candidate when asked to accept Aap party CM candidate Arvind Kejriwal's challenge for a public debate, refused. She said first of all it's too late in the day for a debate. Unfortunately he believes in debates, I believe in delivery. I would love a debate on the floor of the House. I think it is very uncivil, since, doing a debate with him is a tamasha and I am not for a tamasha. (Some commentators said that he would slice her up. Even PM Modi would think twice.)


When posted in Paris in 1970s, I watched for the first time a political debate on TV, after the sudden death of French President Pompidou in 1974. The two major contenders were Giscard d'Estaing, the candidate of the right-wing and François Mitterrand, the candidate of the left-wing. This was just before the second round of the presidential elections after the first round had decided the top two contenders for the ultimate prize, two weeks earlier, in which everyone could and did stand for elections.


Apart from television debates India could also consider having two rounds of voting, the first-round would allow everyone to stand and then the two top contenders to fight it out to be a member of the Parliament or a State assembly, thus a winner must get 50% plus one vote to represent the constituency. In the prevailing system, OBC leader Mulayam Singh Yadav rules Uttar Pradesh, with a population of 170 million, with only 29% of the votes cast, while Prime Minister Modi who rules India has a comfortable majority having obtained only 31% from the votes cast. Thus, Indian democracy is not even representative of the majority of the votes cast. There are many electoral models to make the representatives as close to majority as possible.


India's electoral system was borrowed from the British Islands model, which had historically evolved into a two parties system. UK considered another electoral model now that there is a 3rd major political party .With the caste leaders in most of the Indian states ruling the roost, there is not going to be any change unless forced by a Constitution Bench or a movement of the people. I hope some democracy loving constitutional lawyer files a writ petition in the Supreme Court.


Coming back to the 1974 debate between Giscard and François, it was more or less a balanced political debate and a spectacle. But at the end Giscard very forcefully replying to the questions which Mitterrand had put, exclaimed, "vows êtes l'homme du passif" ie you are a man of the past; you represent old ideas." Abruptly, the debate came to an end just then, giving the necessary edge to Giscard who won by a very narrow majority margin of 1.6%. It is to date the closest presidential election in French history. Giscard's term of seven years ended with his coalition in disarray, he accused of being haughty and inaccessible plus accusations of diamonds gifted to him by an African ruler.


Mitterrand was then elected for two seven year terms. There is a joke that no lady in France would refuse the amorous advances of a newly crowned president or prime minister .As is well known and recorded French presidents are very open about their mistresses, a continuation of their history when Kings and emperors who openly flaunted their mistresses who even affected state policies .During my tenure in Paris, there were media reports of Giscard driving alone in a small car for rendezvous with his lady love. President Hollande is no different. Mitterrand's mistress with their daughter was present at his funeral. Many top Indian leaders have mistresses, even in Rashtrapati Bhavan, but hypocritical Indians donot write about it. 


Another debate I watched was on CNN in Ankara in end 1992 between incumbent Pres George Bush Sr and an upstart challenger in Bill Clinton, who had dared to stand because no other prominent Democrat was willing to stand after the successful operation carried out under Bush's leadership to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait in January 1991. Unfortunately, by forcing Israel to attend a peace conference in Madrid, Bush had annoyed the powerful Jewish lobby in USA, which literally controls the House and the Senate literally by the shorthair. Anyone not fulfilling in advance Israel's foreign policy objectives is defeated by the Jewish lobby and the stranglehold of the Jewish bankers, financiers, media and others.


However, an added reason for the somewhat unexpected win of Clinton was the debate in which Bush behaved like the incumbent Pres and not a candidate. At one point when the question of his weak economic policy was being debated George Bush in the presidential manner, said that he would ask his secretary of state Baker to look into this. This was a fatal mistake of which Clinton took full advantage .He growled that he would be himself looking after the economic policy. After this sort of hard punch, one could see that a deflated George Bush senior, his wife and party exited the hall like an army in retreat.


I have given two examples of debates which I watched on the television. I believe that the debating skills of the candidates and their ability to answer questions to pertinent problems of the country have become a must, an absolute necessity in present era of advances in means of communication. Yes, debating kill is not be all and end all. And some people consider it is a very ordinary talent because debaters are more interested in scoring a point than looking at the subject under discussion in depth.


An example is Mani Shankar Aiyar. He did great damage to the Congress party cause when he said that BJP candidate Narendra Modi, who had once carried tea as part of his duties, could come and serve tea at Congress functions. This rebounded negatively on the Congress party in the elections , as were interviews by Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi .He was no match to Narendra Modi, who had the advantage  of being a successful pracharak ie preacher of  RSS for nearly 30 years and was therefore and is a persuasive speaker.


The debating skill is necessary not only for political leaders to put across party manifestoes but otherwise too but the debate should be restricted to only the top two or three .It is necessary to question them about their policies and projects. A neutral group of independent journalists and others could frame the questions.


Now days, political leaders declare freebies to the electorate before the elections or promise them without caring about the budget or the finances of the state. This has led to totally irresponsible way in financing of states and its revenues. Free power, mostly to rich farmers, has destroyed the Indian power sector almost completely .Apart from this the political leaders also collect large amounts of money under the pretext of funds for elections and keep a large percentage to themselves and distribute some freebies. A government funding of political parties is a must.


During debates the contenders must be asked how they will finance the freebies which they are promising. Therefore what would be the new taxes they would like to levy? At the current moment they all complain that it is the central government, which is not giving them the funds .It is not their fault. This is not correct. They should be held liable for new taxes and expenditure.


Debating skill or to carry an argument is also necessary for teachers, managers, almost in all walks of life. In 1987 -89, while I was establishing the foreign service institute to train new entrants to the Indian foreign service and for upgrading the diplomatic skills at midcareer level and even from other ministries and departments, it so happened that a young IFS officer who used to anchor and organise programs on India's only public DD channels was seconded to FSI. He had thus acquired certain requirements, how to stand, how to pose and speak while delivering speeches or debating. I therefore prepared a small Module for the diplomats and others to be taught how to enhance their debating skills and lecture delivery.


In a recent book, an upstart back stabbing family retainer had written how not only Rajeev Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi but even Indira Gandhi, used to prepare for election speeches. For all her faults Sonia Gandhi, an Italian, did a magnificent job in transforming herself into an Indian including speaking in Hindi .Thus, delivery of speeches and debating is a very essential skill.


K.Gajendra Singh, 23 Jan., 2015, Mayur Vihar, Delhi


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Welcome to Michelle Obama, wife of US President Barack Obama




Welcome to Michelle Obama, wife of US President Barack Obama


Let us welcome again, Michelle Obama, wife of the American president Barack Obama. Being a sympathiser and a supporter of Aam Aadmi Party (Aap) I have written a lot against the policies of US oligopoly controlled Pres Barack Obama. Even his most fervent admirers have been greatly disappointed by the policies he has followed both externally and internally .Anyway, Michelle Obama brings charm, grace, a sense of happiness and relaxation. According to many she is smarter than her husband and had played a very prominent role in pushing him up the political ladder in Jewish dominated Chicago Democratic political machine.


Michelle La Vaughn Robinson was born on January 17, 1964, in ChicagoIllinois, to Fraser Robinson III, a city water plant employee and Democratic precinct captain, and Marian (née Shields), a secretary at Spiegel's catalog store. Her mother was a full-time homemaker until Michelle entered high school. The Robinson and Shields families can trace their roots to pre-Civil War African Americans in the American South. On her father's side she is descended from the Gullah people of South Carolina's Low Country region. Her paternal great-great grandfather, Jim Robinson, was a slave on Friend field Plantation in the state of South Carolina, the state where some of her paternal family still reside.


.Raised on the South Side of Chicago, she is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, and spent the early part of her legal career working at the law firm Sidley Austin, where she met Obama. Subsequently, she worked as part of the staff of Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, and for the University of Chicago Medical Center..


On Slave trading

A few miles from Senegal's capital Dakar in west Africa, lies the island of Goree, which long served as a thriving entrepot for European slavers to herd Africans from the hinterland, mostly helped by rival tribes , to be sorted out like cattle for export to the new continent of Americas, to labour there as domestics or in plantations. 

When posted at Dakar in late 1970s I went over to Goree many times, now a small, picturesque town and a UNESCO heritage site with museums including ' The Maison des Esclaves '("Slave House"), which was constructed in 1786 , which displays slavery artifacts, and the Fort d'Estrées built in the 1850s.  

Once I chanced on a jazz festival there to which some well known and rising young talents, mostly from USA had come over to participate .Many others also came to West Africa in search of their roots .A few hundred miles south of Dakar is river Gambia, the locale for the book 'The Roots'. 

There were colourful and lively Jazz bands vying with each other. But there was one young girl whose singing left a searing imprint on my soul, as if after visiting the museum and the dungeons below ,where Black Africans were chained like animals ,she had transmuted into music the bruising of their souls , tortures and suffering of centuries - free human beings turned into animals ,sold and bartered like any other commodity. Even now a flash of that wailing music, the cry of a caged soul pierces down my spine.  '

More at http://tarafits.blogspot.in/2011/11/after-iraq-natures-backlash-warns.html

I am simply reproducing an old article of January 2009, because election of Obama brought a lot of attention to his wife, especially in India, where we still value white complexion because of Brahminical caste system and its influence, colonisation by racist British rulers and then their replacement by the Americans.


The craze for white in India has not diminished and is unlikely. Jokers like Shah Rukh Khan shamelessly promote whitening creams for a few coins, which is a disgrace as he is officially the richest Bollywood star.


K. Gajendra Singh, 21st of January 20 50 Delhi


Black is Beautiful & Michelle Obama 
by K. Gajendra Singh  


"How good-looking +- my wife?" Obama's compliment to Michelle before one of 12 inaugural balls. --No one -- could doubt that glamour has returned to the White House. It was like a scene from a Hollywood movie and created images of fashion and celebrity to rival anything that emerged from JFK's vaunted "Camelot". 
' The Guardian, UK.


After almost exuberant expressions of joy among India's chattering class at Barack Obama's election, the first ever brown US President, the black complexion of his intelligent and beautiful wife, a real Afro-American, became a subject of discussions on some Indian TV channels; if black would now become beautiful and fashionable. It is unlikely to create any change in the deeply ingrained fair color obsession of India's higher castes. This ancient Brahminical belief and order was further strengthened by two centuries of British colonial rule based on the so called superiority of the white race. A few weeks ago, when Ashwaria Rai Bachchan refused to promote whitening creams it made news, since many mercenary Bollywood stars and models pander to such racist ideas.

The white vs black debate reminded me of 1978- 81 summers I spent in Dakar, Senegal's capital city on the peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic ocean, with many excellent beaches along its coast with hundred percent sun guaranteed throughout the year. The cold ocean currents make for cool climate from December to July. Then the warm hot weather attracts a large number of wealthy holiday makers specially from the north Europe, with many taking a second winter tanning vacation in November 'December at beaches of Senegal and down south in Gambia and Ivory Coast.

From mid July to end September, the Senegalese elite following the practice of their erstwhile rulers, the French, led by President Sedar Senghor, with his French wife and a villa in Normandy in France absented themselves from the country, with the government functioning on a skeleton staff. Most diplomats followed suit, except some like pauvre moi made to do what we could in the hot humid climate. We got together in the evenings, had a few drinks, played some bridge, I even taught 'Scrabble' to some. Even with the release of a new Indian film every week in Dakar's cinemas, with little to do even during normal times and visits to 4 neighboring capitals, I was concurrently accredited to, the summer afternoons were difficult to pass. 

How ever there was one pleasant escape. For some reason, perhaps to add glamour and international flavor, Ambassadors were permitted free entrance to French Club Mediteranne holiday resort at Dakar, otherwise restricted only to customers. So after lunch we would sometimes drive over to the Club, to watch as I would say exhibition of mammary glands; tourists there went around topless to soak in the sun and at a secluded spot even in their birthday suites to acquire some bronze tint, which is recognized in Europe as a sign of having had a vacation, a done thing. Of course there are nudist clubs in many places. In general taking off the tops is considered a sign of advanced civilization by many Westerners.

I had a way to describe these sun starved white or pink creatures from Sweden, Denmark, Germany and elsewhere. Those who had spent a few days looked liked grilled lobsters, a week stay gave them Tandoori chicken tintage. Those nearing two weeks stay or so looked like Sami kebabs, real dark brown black, almost. Mischievous Indian writer Khuswant Singh, although an anglophile, once compared the European complexion to the bottoms of the Rhesus monkeys. Among people of Europe, whose hair is generally straight, limp and lifeless there is a tradition, almost a craze, to curl and wave them, ruining them by the time women reach their 40s and 50s. 

While white or pink Europeans in the resorts were curling their straight hair or tanning themselves even at the risk of skin cancer, outside the resorts, black Senegalese, especially women, were ruining their beautiful dusky skins by using whitening creams. It is quite an effort for Afro-American women including Condi Rice or Michelle Obama to straighten their hair and then impart mild curls to conform to the au courant hair do. To straighten out real crinkly hair and make pleats say like the Australian cricketer Andrew Symonds would easily require many hours by a coiffeur or a friend to accomplish the feat. Therefore many men including Obama sport shaven heads with a few days growth. As for bearing of breasts if not almost everything; women go topless not far from the cities, in Senegal and elsewhere in Africa. African dance troupes which performed regularly at cultural centres in Dakar were always a joy to watch; full of abandon, rhythm, melody conveying ecstasy and permeated with spiritual fervor. When the dancers were bare breasted, they were a great hit among Westerners as if the advanced civilizations merged with each other. 

There for it is a matter of sadness, when Indians blessed by nature with curly hair and clear brown skins, from one spectrum to another should hanker after whitening creams. Of course the model or ideal concept of beauty as disseminated and popularized by Western beauty care industry and fashion houses is the so called Caucasian model. Indian models suddenly became popular with this western industry a few years ago, not because there was any genetic change in India but to cash on the rising affluence of India's rich and middle classes, brainwashed into Western mores and values .So there has been an increase in Indians being crowned Miss World and Miss Universe.

Curiously, most of these young Indian aspirants when questioned by the judges at beauty parades cite Mother Teresa as their ideal and proclaim to follow in her footsteps. But from day one of their strenuous preparations for the pageants their sites are firmly fixed on Mumbai's film and modeling industry and associated activities. Yes rising incomes and leisure has made Indian women and even men more conscious of cosmetics use and designer dresses. Ironically till 1970s we all wore tailor stitched shirts and suits as readymade clothes were imported and very expensive.

To enter Nigeria, Africa's largest market based on its oil riches, when a Nigerian model fitting the Western concept of thin slim model was selected Miss Universe, among ordinary Nigerians it was met with derisive laughter as the local ideal is a healthy buxom figure.

Having grown up in small towns with vacations in ancestral villages and at Banaras, Patiala and Delhi before being posted out in early 1960s as a diplomat to Cairo, I encountered the usual bias for fair /wheat complexioned females. And even for males, to improve the progeny's whiteness, unless they were rich or earned fat salaries. In Patiala, a friend's mother was in raptures over the beauty of a bride. When I enquired, she said," she is Angrez vargi gori - fair like the English. (In my view the West European women in general are generally very ordinary looking even by the Caucasian parameters. On this subject some other time) Not being fair, I would be consoled that as I was educated and would get a good job, so what if I am dark. After all many Indian Gods like Rama, Krishna and Shiva were dark and black .

In Egypt my first foreign post, like many Arab countries they were not too hot on darker hues, even though some of their ancient rulers the Pharaohs from Upper Egypt and Nubia bordering Sudan were dark complexioned with curly hair and thick lips. In Islamic culture the concept of slave or ghulam is quite different from Western civilization specially Anglo-American, as manifested by the ill treatment of natives by the British and other Europeans in their colonies; of African slaves in America being the ugliest and the most inhuman. In USA, the children born out of White 'Black union were meted out the worst treatment, verily a crime against the innocent. This strong cultural divide exists in USA with the Blacks evolving their own subculture in arts and social interaction. The trial of former American Black football star O. J. Simpson for murdering his white ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her white friend exposed the racial divide in USA (Simpson was acquitted in 1995 but a civil suit was filed.)This divide is unlikely to be bridged. In fact some people believe that a volcano is bubbling underneath which could erupt if the coming collapse of US economy creates social unrest.

Slave girls in Muslim society, many came down from Caucasus to Ottoman Istanbul, but once they bore children became part of the family. Slaves could rise on merit and even become rulers like the those from Turkestan or from the Caucasus and Balkans in Ottoman empire and elsewhere. In the Saudi dynasty, children from black mothers now occupy key posts. In India rulers like Balban, ltutmas and many others were slaves. 

It was while traveling on an Italian boat from Alexandria to Algiers in 1964 that I was pleasantly surprised at the coiffeur and his woman assistant on board admiring my black hair. However it was in Turkey during late 1960s and early 1970s that one saw unabashed appreciation of black; hair and complexion. Many visitors, especially women from India were thrilled when they got admiring glances or compliments for their dark complexion and black hair. The ambassador's two daughters were the cynosure for their dark skin; described beautiful like black satin. Members of a Turkish delegation, which went down to Madras just could not stop talking enough the beautiful dusky saleswomen of an emporium they went for shopping. 

Unfortunately when I returned to Ankara in 1992 after 20 years, in their urge to join the Europe Union, the Turkish elite had gone blonde. In fact so many women in big cities sported blonde hair that I joked with my old friends if they had abducted blondes from northern Europe. Their embarrassed answer was, no we have taken to manufacturing blonde dyes. With little chance of making to the EU, I hope the Turks will revert to their preference and pride for the black. 

For some decades after India's independence the new ruling elites bias for white color with Kashmiri Brahmins ruling the roost, remained ascendant. I heard an apocryphal story by a south Indian victim from a group selected for the diplomatic service by the Union Public Service Commission. With many of being of darker complexion they were presented by the establishment on a muggy afternoon, to a tired Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, who was also the External Affairs Minister. The UPSC merit list was set aside and those selected instead were described by a magazine as illiterate cavalrymen, dispossessed princelings and well connected knitwits. 

The color bias was also popularized by Hindustan's mainstream cinema located in Bombay, now Mumbai, with many leading stars hailing from Frontier province and united Punjab before the partition of India. With the ruling elite becoming more defused, many actors, not white chocolate complexion struggled up in this rough field. Some of them being Smita Patil, Rekha, Shabana Azmi and among males Amitabh Bachchan and Shatrughan Sinha, the two not even good looking in the conventional sense. It was hoped that the era of fair complexion prejudice would disappear but evils of globalization including whitening creams is a negative development. In any case in matrimonial advertisement for brides and grooms the preference is still for fair spouses.

K Gajendra Singh, Indian ambassador (retired), served as ambassador to Turkey and Azerbaijan from August 1992 to April 1996. Prior to that, he served terms as ambassador to Jordan, Romania and Senegal. He is currently chairman of the Foundation for Indo-Turkic Studies. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lessons for India from Decades long Sri Lankan National Tragedy



Lessons for India from Decades long Sri Lankan National Tragedy


Obscurantist, anti-Muslim, anti-Christian and anti-science Hindutva types are Fracturing India's' Heterogeneous Polity


I was having a walk along with the Bangladesh ambassador, a close friend , on the beautiful manicured Park around Lake Herastro, very close to the Indian Residence in Bucharest. It was soon after the beginning of the 1983 Civil War in Sri Lanka, when Sinhala government naval ratings and other forces had went on a killing rampage even into prisons, where Tamilians were jailed. Based on my readings of history, polity and international law and relations, my instinctive reaction was that Sri Lanka was no longer a State, when state authorities and security forces were used to wage a savage war against its own citizens.


There is now some peace with a new President after the unexpected defeat of Mahinda Rajpaksa.But the wounds suffered for more than 3 decades would take long time to heal !!  


It should be a lesson to obscurantist, anti-Muslim anti-Christian and anti-science Hindutva crazies who are daily fracturing Indian polity, because Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party BJP got, a thumping majority in the parliament, but only obtained 31% of the votes cast. I have always maintained that India does not even have a representative democracy because a very irrational, and undemocratic copy of the British electoral system. No one even talks about changing it and making it more representative. Thus, what is being done in the name of democracy in India by Narendra Modi and his colleague's is, bringing in totally conservative ,obscurantist and pro-party people as Governors, Chief of various public societies and organisations, including National Censor board is anti-democratic in nature.


There will be blowback .Just wait for Delhi Assembly elections in 3 weeks time.


So far Modi government has done exactly what Congress had done, positioning their lackeys in all organisations of importance. Thus BJP is no longer a party with a difference. It is the same as others, except that so far brazen loot, which was being carried out by Congress politicians, ministers and others has apparently been somewhat reduced. Hopefully!


Those who have followed the history of Sri Lanka since early 1980s should see the result of discrimination, deprivation and open hostility against minorities. In this case Sri Lankan Tamilians and Sri Lankan Muslims, who got together to defeat Sri Lankan Strongman Pres Rajpaksa with absolute power .According to media reports he even tried to bring in military when it was imminent that he was losing the polls, called two years before his term was to end. Fortunately, the military and the legal advisers stopped him from going ahead.


Regarding India's Sri Lankan policy doing Rajeev Gandhi's regime, see the article below by a very experienced and sober journalist Inder Malhotra . There is no doubt now or even then that the government's policy on Sri Lanka was a total disaster and not well thought of.


Now posted back  to Delhi ,I had then gone to Chandigarh for a few days. When I switched on TV channel I was aghast that at Marina beach in Madras, Congress leaders, including Rajeev Gandhi declared the trap in which India has been led into by wily fox President Jayewardene of Sri Lanka as the greatest agreement of century between the two countries.


Later in 1989 when I was establishing the Foreign Service Institute for new entrants to the foreign service and for diplomats from other countries, I had just organised a module on how to cope with terrorism and terrorist activities keeping in view terror groups from Punjab supported by Pakistan and from Sri Lanka in South India .The program followed is given below.


Crisis Management Program Outline and Daily Schedule 

                          MONDAY JUNE 12

0915                  Registration

0930                  Inauguration by Hon'ble

Sh P Chidambaram, M.O S

10151115     Political Violence and Terrorism a historical overview

1115-1130     Tea break

1130-1300        Foreign Policy and Legal Aspects of Terrorism

1 300-1400       Working Lunch
1400-1 530      Psychodynamics of terrorism
1530-1600       Tea break
1600-1730        Theories and practices in Crisis Management


1000 1300         Dealing with crisis situations- negotiating skills and techniques

1300-1400        Working Lunch

1400-1600        Dealing with terrorists— a simulation exercise
1600-1630        Tea break

1 630-1 730      Organisation of terrorist and militant groups in India



0930-1100        Media and Crisis Management

1100-1130        Tea break
11301300      International Terrorist Groups I

1300-1400        Working Lunch
1400 1 530       International Terrorist Groups-ll

1530-1600        Tea break

1 600 1 730       Smuggling and Narco-terrorism


                     THURSDAY JUNE 15

1000 1300        Case study of terrorist incident : analysis and conclusion

1 300 1400        Working Lunch
140O-1730      Case studies in terrorism

1) Mhatre murder case (Birmingham)

2) Hijacking of Indian Airlines plane in Dubai

3) Attempted hijacking of PAN AM Aircraft at Karachi (Sept  1986)

4) Dec 1988 PANAM Aircrash



1000-1300        Simulation exercise: Indian Ambassador held hostage

1300-1400        Working Lunch

1400-1 530       Institutional Arrangements for Crisis Management

1530-1545        Tea break
1545-1630        Video film 'Crisis Management'

1630-1730        Review/Assessment


But I wonder if the FSI  still organises such a module, since terrorism has become even more important and serius threat than 30 years ago. Remember  2611.


After this module I had Mani Dixit, our High Commissioner in Colombo and a major advisor on India's Sri Lanka policy who was visiting the Ministry to come over and speak to the foreign service trainees. It was a wishy-washy lecture, which impressed no one. Of course, the young trainees did not put any difficult  questions. So I asked Mani what were the main objectives of the policy which we had followed. To make his task easier , I gave the example of Syria. I said for Syria's strategic defence and foreign policy a regime in Lebanon was very critical as had been proved since the creation of these two states after World War II. Damascus was aware of the importance of having a pro-Syrian regime in Beirut and if not, at least a neutral one. Damascus was therefore prepared to pay any price to keep Lebanon friendly and certainly not hostile.


This has been proved since then although because of manipulations and interference , led by Washington and its NATO allies , neighbours Jordan and Turkey ,with money and arms supplied by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf countries. Syria has been put into a grave situation about its integrity and sovereignty. I am giving the example of what a country should know about its strategic objectives , threats and a price one must be prepared to pay for it.


We got no satisfactory or sensible response from Mani Dixit. The fact that India's Sri Lanka policy was a total disaster is now well acknowledged and accepted. However, Mr Dixit later on became Foreign Secretary and those dealing with Sri Lanka in the Ministry of external affairs were given choicest of the posts, in spite of failure of the policy.


PV Narsingh Rao was then External Affairs minister .It was my experience that whenever  asked for any comment or observation on India's foreign policy , Rao would parrot, "Asked Ronen (Sen)", foreign policy adviser to the Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.. Narsingh Rao, in spite of the fact that he was home Minister when the terrible killings of Sikhs took place in Delhi and elsewhere following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi , later became PM . Rao as Prime Minister slept through the afternoon, when the Hindutva ruffians and ragtag were bringing down the Babari Mosque , brick by brick. He thought he was very smart and it will make him popular with Hindus. He did destroy the Congress party in north India from which it has never recovered. Whatever was left of the Congress party has been destroyed and eradicated  by an undeserving Prime Minister , who could not even be elected to the parliament ie the last occupant of 7 ,Racecourse Road, Dr Manmohan Singh.


Another policy maker on our policy on Sri Lanka and LTT E was a senior official of India's external intelligence agency appropriately with an acronym RAW . I overheard  a very senior RAW official proclaiming in the corridors of South block that he could make LTTE's  brutal leader Prabhakaran do anything which he wanted him to do. We all know the results .It was LTTE which organised the assassination of Rajeev Gandhi. According to my sources, Rajiv Gandhi's  assassination has never been properly investigated, something it was said was delayed by Narsingh Rao, much to the anger of Sonia Gandhi. According to most foreign service officers there is disdain if not contempt at what RAW officers do abroad. And gory details come out about the squabbles from inside RAW , maltreatment , wasteful expenditure and defalcation of funds meant for discretionary use.


K.Gajendra Singh, 20 January, 2015.Delhi


Rear view: Lost in Lanka


Written by Inder Malhotra | Posted: January 19, 2015 12:59 am



By the middle of 1987, Rajiv Gandhi was besieged by many domestic problems of extreme gravity. Yet he decided to mediate in the catastrophic ethnic strife in neighbouring Sri Lanka between the ruling Sinhala majority and the highly aggrieved Tamil minority concentrated in the northern and eastern regions of the island republic. The problem had begun long ago, when the Sinhala-dominated government imposed Sinhala as the only language of the country, and it escalated so fast as to become nearly intractable. India's policy on Sri Lanka, which Rajiv inherited from his mother, was as complex as the situation in the island.


Indira Gandhi did not like the efforts of Sri Lanka's veteran and wily executive president, J.R. Jayewardene, to draw in the United States, some west European countries and Israel, to help out with his difficulties. She wanted the problem of Sri Lanka to be resolved with Indian assistance without any "any foreign intrusion". So she had seen to it that her foreign policy advisor, G. Parthasarathy, and a nominee of Jayewardene worked out an arrangement for devolution of power to the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka that would be acceptable to the Sinhala majority also. The effort remained a work in progress. At the same time, she was keen to ensure that Sri Lankan Tamils did not feel let down by India. There was so much sympathy and support for them in Tamil Nadu that they could use the Indian state as a safe haven and also a training field, with the Central government benignly looking away.


Rajiv did not like this and changed the policy. Meanwhile, of the various Tamil groups resisting Sinhala domination, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) emerged as the most influential and powerful. Eelam in the name stood for complete independence. This was the brainchild of its leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran who, as the world witnessed, was a "brutal fighter".



The old fox, Jayewardene, was usually in awe of Indira. But he found it easy to deal with her son and successor. Fairly early during their negotiations, the two agreed on a new approach. The Sri Lankan government had so isolated the northern Tamil area as to virtually force India to do some "bread bombing" of Jaffna to enable the starving people to eat. Yet, the two sides broke new ground soon enough. New Delhi and Colombo decided to sign an agreement on solving the problem and to cajole or coerce the LTTE to accept it. The Rajiv-Jayewardene accord was duly inked on July 29 in Colombo in an immensely tense atmosphere. But, as Rajiv's MoS for External Affairs K. Natwar Singh (who later became foreign minister) has recorded in his autobiography, One Life Is Not


Enough, its implementations created more problems than it solved.


In the first place, even while the agreement was being signed, Sri Lanka's prime minister, R. Premadasa, and a senior minister, Lalith Athulathmudali, made no secret of their opposition to it. Something even more startling happened a little later. Seeing that Jayewardene was talking seriously to Rajiv surrounded only by Sri Lankan officials, Foreign Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao asked Natwar Singh to go and find out what was afoot. Rajiv told him that Colombo was a besieged city and Jayewardene feared that there might be a coup before nightfall. So he had asked for an Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) immediately. To Natwar's question of whether he would like to consult his senior colleagues before sending troops, Rajiv replied that he had already ordered a division of the army to get to Colombo as fast as possible.


Before signing the agreement, Rajiv had sent for Prabhakaran in Delhi, and was apparently satisfied with the LTTE supremo's verbal acceptance of the draft accord. Tamil Nadu's hugely popular chief minister, M.G. Ramachandaran, was also in Delhi and reportedly gave Prabhakaran a lot of money. However, when asked to surrender arms, as required by the July 29 accord, the LTTE insisted on a series of preconditions, including the release of all Tamil prisoners in government custody and a halt to Sinhala colonisation of the island's eastern region. How terribly high the Sinhala rage against Indian intervention in their country was became known at the time of Rajiv's departure for home. At the guard of honour, a Lankan soldier tried to hit him with the stem of his gun. The prime minister's youthful reflexes saved his life. At the Bandaranaike International Airport, the Sri Lankan prime minister was conspicuous by his absence. When asked about this "discourtesy", Rajiv blandly replied: "Some presidents have a problem with their prime ministers, and some prime ministers have a problem with their presidents." The latter part of the statement was a clear reference to his row with the then president, Giani Zail Singh.


For a short while, an uneasy peace lasted in Sri Lanka. But even the Tamils of that country turned against India because the IPKF had to storm and capture the LTTE headquarters in Jaffna, though at a high cost. Several IPKF commanders have written books about the often vague and even contradictory instructions from Delhi. This should explain why the much-respected Indian army suffered a dent in its image. Over a thousand Indian soldiers were killed. In 1989, when Rajiv was defeated in the election, Premadasa had replaced Jayewardene as Lanka's president. He lost no time in demanding the IPKF's withdrawal. The new Indian prime minister, V.P. Singh, was happy to undo what Rajiv had done. When the first batch of the IPKF landed in Chennai, no one in the Tamil Nadu government was willing to receive it. Only the governor, P.C. Alexander, welcomed them.

Even more sadly, there is no memorial for the IPKF anywhere in India. Only the Sri Lankans have built one in Colombo. Evidently, they realise that India spilled blood and spent from its treasury to save their country's unity.


The writer is a Delhi-based political commentator

Monday, January 19, 2015

India's North-West neighbour; Pakistan



India's North-West neighbour; Pakistan


Let us turn away from Middle East, Ukraine and Paris attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine, which has repeatedly insulted Prophet Mohammed, Islam and Muslims, and continues to do so. Even his Holiness the Pope came out strongly against the so called freedom of press in USA and Europe. It is rubbish. In all these places it is a corporate interests who control media, actually all means of commutation and anyone violating the self-imposed censorship is removed straightaway.


My impression of Paris posting in mid-1970s is that it was the most policed city and state in Western Europe. Even then, as soon as you registered in a hotel, the Concierge i.e. gatekeeper would inform the local police station. West is quite free to insult its gods and goddesses and their religious leaders.


The word Sharif was used for the ruler of Hejaz, the custodian of Mecca and Medina and those who belong to that family .Usually the use the word Sharif before their name, like some of the Prime Ministers in Jordan is common. The British allowed ibn Saud, a rustic chief of wild and uncultured tribes after World War I to come in place of Sharif Hussain, the great-grandfather of King Abdulla II of Jordan, direct descendants of Prophet Mohammed. Those Muslims or Ashraffs who come from well-connected Arab, Turkic, Persian and Afghan families look down upon converts to Islam, especially in the subcontinent. Ashraffs are as bad as Brahmins .More later.


It so happens that the military ruler, Gen Raheel Sharif and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, both have Sharif as surnames. Nawaz Sharif's family originates from, Batala from a blacksmith family. He was propped up by another East Punjab origin General Zia ul Haq from Jalandhar. However, both Sharifs seem to be on the same page as far as the implosive internal situation in Pakistan is concerned.


Let us take that as a positive development and forget small street agitators ,conspirators , petty shopkeepers and street ruffians from towns and villages who have been thrown up into positions of power and as members of Parliament, provincial assemblies and even as ministers in New Delhi. To satisfy the jingoist tendencies of Indian population, especially 31% of people who voted for BJP, Modi's government have shown enough determination and even cussedness in replying to various incursions from Pakistan, especially in Jammu and Kashmir.


The ignorant and usual suspects who come and speak on Indian TV channels and Indian diplomats, who have done a posting in Pakistan or perhaps a Muslim country with little knowledge of Islam and its history, cultural, educational and scientific heights talk of all Muslims and Muslim states as if they are ignorant and monolithic . The Muslims created science, technology, culture, education, and many empires which ruled large territories under the Arab caliphates, Ottoman empires and various empires in Hindustan including the last Mogul Empire.


If Pakistan is an anti-India profession, as I once told a Turkish Prime Minister, Indians because of pernicious creation of Pakistan to guard Western oil pumps and fields in Middle East, a task which was taken over by the new bully on international arena Washington, Indians instead of hitting the creator of this state, the cause of the state UK, USA Saudi Arabia I, instead hate the effect ie Pakistan. Those who have done one or two postings in Islamic countries are like blind men feeling an elephant and describing it as a whole. The author has served in more than half a dozen Muslim countries from Middle East, North Africa, West Africa, Turkey and Caspian and has travelled extensively in most of these and other countries Muslim countries. The knowledge about Islam and Muslim countries in India including Indian diplomats who are brainwashed by UK, USA and media persons is harmful and against long-term interests of India.


I am enclosing two articles by my favourite Pakistani journalist Khaled Ahmad, who very clearly explains the changes which have come about in the thinking of Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister and the military chief Gen Raheel Sharif. The so-called Indian empty heads on TV channels and those writing in Indian media should recognise the changes brought about in the world following the stand-off between Russia and USA. Anglo-Saxons  have always been against Indian interests so far, along with some other European countries ,Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries .India should look at the possibilities of solving our problems with Pakistan and, if necessary, by putting aside the problem of Jammu and Kashmir and go on to other differences between the two countries.


Do not forget that during Mogul Empire, merchants from Delhi and Lahore could go with Hundis (letters of credit) to Ottoman capital Istanbul, Safavid capital Tehran and Sehbani Ozbeks bazaars of Bukhara and Samarkand and carry on business as usual. During Mogul Empire fruits from Central Asia used to be brought to the fruit markets of Delhi. Why cannot that be restored again and begin the restoration of good relations between Asian countries to initiate an Asian century for peace and progress. Without peace there can be no development, the slogan of Prime Minister Narendra Modi


K.Gajendra Singh.19 January, 2015

The enemy within


Written by Khaled Ahmed | Posted: January 17, 2015 12:00 am



Last month, the chief of the Pakistan Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif, spoke to the South Asian Strategic Stability Institute on "Security Outlook 2025: National Security and Defence Transformation", and stated: "In contemporary geopolitics, the battles are no longer between state and non-state actors but with supra-individuals, those individuals who exploit both the national and international space for their desired objectives. These supra-individuals have the capacity to manipulate networks, organisations and state institutions to create waves of instability and create discord at the centre of the state institutions. Explosions are still a viable tool of war, but implosions are the new defeat mechanisms."


Who are these supra-individuals endangering the nation-state and the world? He didn't use the word supermen, as it has been squeezed of meaning somewhat by cinema, where flying men come to the help of beleaguered humanity. He definitely meant leaders who arouse violence, the one instinct all individuals are gifted with, but which is suppressed by a civilisation rising dazed from world wars conducted by supra-individual leaders.


Did the general refer only to leaders who create inter-state conflict? He also said Pakistan's enemy was "within" rather than "without" — he "lives within us and looks like us". One can name a few supra-individuals — unfortunately all Muslims today — killing Muslims and causing inter-state conflict. One can also look at the leaders within Pakistan who exercise personality cult and can be placed in the category of supra-individuals. In all cases, violence is the hallmark of their identity.

More from Khaled Ahmed

Because of India

Everywhere the foreign hand

Let economists lead the way

The birth of the violent supra-individual is unavoidable. Religion helps in his nurture. In the organised state, he takes his flock and occupies a sequestered space where he can mould his followers' conduct without being challenged. Because he uses violence, he gets into trouble with the organised state sooner or later, is attacked in his stronghold, after which he kills himself like Hitler in the last face-off with the law. His followers remain loyal and embrace death; such is the power of the supra-individual.


In the unorganized state — General Sharif called such states "polarized" — he is almost irresistible and causes dysfunction. "Due to increased polarization," he said, "governments are unable to protect their people and national security."

After World War II — which produced supra-individuals on both sides of the conflict, like Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, etc — democracy in Europe tried to prevent the rise of the charismatic leader. But the masses, living under democracy, never really suppressed their appetite for the "redeemer" type of leader who would bring about the "big change". Where democracy falters and the state becomes weak through the loss of its writ, the redeemer promising "change" with "violence" makes his appearance, calling it "revolution". No one listens to my favourite economists, Surjit S. Bhalla and Ijaz Nabi, saying that any significant change comes only from high growth rates, not revolution.

Even when pledging peaceful "protest" under the constitution, the "redeemer" uses a language full of violence. The peaceful protest invariably produces physical violence, a transition from verbal to physical, which has been recognised as a norm in politics. In Pakistan, most religious leaders tend to use "verbal" violence as sanctioned by Islam according to their lights. Frequently, it is followed by acts of great violence, including beheadings, the favourite mode of righteous punishment among Muslims these days.


In Pakistan, probably the most verbally violent leader in the recent politics of "peaceful protest" was the great religious leader, Allama Tahirul Qadri of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek. His cult followers agitated in Lahore and became violent. The administration lost its head and retaliated with bullets. The new normal is that you let the protesters inflict some damage and take it passively. Qadri was so violent in his speech that he damaged his heart nerves haranguing his flock, and
is now ill.

On the other hand, Imran Khan uses a lower grade of verbal pyrotechnics, but his followers, less subject to control, take the cue and become greatly agitated. His crowds always look like getting out of hand and are scary for an administration charged with the task of drawing the sting of "sit-ins". Do the supra-leaders want violence, or is it the fault of the administration that forces their followers to become violent?


All commentators at some point concede that cult leaders want dead bodies on the ground as part of their planned rise to power. Is violence a needed ingredient of the politics of showdown threatened by deadlock? Gone are the days when leaders stepped down after feeling they had become unpopular. These days, most third-world states fail to deliver and become unpopular within six months. (Pardon me, but nowadays this happens in Europe too, especially to leftists like Hollande, who promise more "delivery" than is possible.)


The pattern in Pakistan is: hit the streets, become violent, disrupt the economy, scare the normal citizen into neutrality, and then expect the "arbitrator", the army, to step in and ask the elected government to leave. Politicians have developed a conditioned reflex and probably never really want to rule when they try and topple each other from power. Clearly, they prefer the army to "arbitrate", without really wanting the next election too much. When the army decides to stay a decade in power, they simply join its government. Most of them have this background.

The Muslim redeemers in Nigeria, Somalia and Iraq are not really very different. They routinely behead fellow Muslims, but they have learned the trick from our redeemers like Hakimullah Mehsud and Fazlullah. The army knows this and their commander, General Sharif, wants to tell the truth about people who are "within us and look like us".


The state in Pakistan has become weak after decades of irredentism and asymmetrical war. In Afghanistan, the weak state produced warlords; in Pakistan, it has produced supra-individuals like Qadri, Khan, Altaf Hussain of the MQM, Hafiz Saeed of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa and, less visibly, Malik Ishaq of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Masood Azhar of Jaish-e-Muhammad, Ahmad Ludhianvi of erstwhile Sipah Sahaba, and Muhammad Ilyas Qadri of Dawat-e-Islami. An inspired Mumtaz Qadri can kill a governor and then dictate terms from the death cell as retired judges of the high court plead for his honourable release.


The supra-individual of Pakistan mobilises massive amounts of money and multitudes. They are well organised, funded by people who want change not written in the constitution. Some funding will come from the Gulf region, if you are willing to behead the Shia. But grabbing property and rentals will fill the coffers too, as the local administration shows less and less interest in confronting violent mobs that look increasingly like the Taliban.

General Sharif's statement is an extraordinary diagnosis. His predecessor, Ashraf Kayani, caused a national double-take when, towards the end of his last extension, he conceded that Pakistan was "threatened from within". He didn't go into as much detail as the morally more courageous current commander has. Will the Pakistan army follow up on its latest "threat perception"? Pakistanis, helpless in the face of the supra-individuals, will be forever grateful.


The writer is consulting editor, 'Newsweek Pakistan'.

- See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/the-enemy-within-2/99/#sthash.mlRYfb6z.dpuf

Pakistan Military Chief General Raheel Sharif on Internal terrorism and Peace with India


LONDON/RAWALPINDI - Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif has stressed the need for regional peace and better ties with India, urging negotiations between both the countries on an equal level.

Speaking at International Institute for Strategic Studies in London on Friday, General Raheel Sharif emphasized on the settlement of Kashmir dispute for establishing long-term peace in the region.

He said that Pakistan was now focusing on war against terrorism which was aimed at uprooting extremism from the country very soon.

Gen Raheel said that National Action Plan (NAP) was a comprehensive long-term strategy to address extremism and terrorism in the country with the government doing best for its implementation.

The army chief said the ongoing military operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan against terrorists was making good progress.

The COAS said that there were no favorites, all terrorists of any kind were being hit, according to ISPR Director General Maj Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa's tweet on social media.

Gen Raheel said that the relations with Afghanistan were improving, adding "We are working for stability in the region.
He said that longstanding Kashmir issue has to be resolved for long-term peace, stability in the region, Pakistan wants peace, but with dignity and honour.

He said that the world needs to understand our environment.
"Our cooperation with United Kingdom (UK) in security and social sector is growing.
About return of Temporarily Displaced Persons (TDPs) from North Waziristan Agency, the army chief said the world should help in dignified resettlement of TDPs.

Earlier, during his visit to Royal Military Academy and Royal College of Defence Studies in London, the army chief said that the Peshawar massacre has united the whole nation, adding the political and military leaders of the country were working together against terrorism.

During his visit to London's Royal Military Academy, the army chief met Pakistani cadets under training at the academy.

General Raheel urged Pakistani cadets to become team leaders and to bring honour to the country.
General Raheel also visited Royal College of Defence Studies and presented Pakistan's stance on security challenges and terrorism.

He said Pakistan was determined to work against terrorism.

The Pakistani High Commission in London also held a reception in the army chief's honour in which British Defence Minister Michael Falcon, members of parliament Lord Tariq Mahmood, Saeeda Warsi, Lord Nazir Ahmad, Khalid Mahmood and members of European parliament Dr Sajjad Kareem and Amjad Bashir and leaders of local Pakistani community participated.

In his address to the reception ceremony, General Raheel said the entire nation has united after the Peshawar massacre, one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the country that left 150 dead including 132 schoolchildren.

He said the operation against the terrorists was continuing and that several areas have been cleansed of terrorists.

The army chief said that Pakistan's relations with Afghanistan were improving and that Pakistan's political and military leaders were working together to root out terrorism from the country.

The Pakistani community congratulated the army chief on successful UK visit.

Director General Inter Services Public Relations Maj Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa has reiterated the Army's resolve to ensure writ of the state in Bajaur and North Waziristan agencies at all costs by wiping out terrorists.

Addressing a think-tank of Royal United Services Institute in the United Kingdom, he said effective military operations are under way in these agencies to purge the areas of terrorists.

He said the security forces have so far killed 2,000 terrorists in North Waziristan Agency while 200 soldiers embraced martyrdom in operation Zarb-e-Azb and 800 others sustained injuries.

The ISPR director general said the army chief has clearly directed to carry out operation against terrorists without any discrimination.

Bajwa said even the United Nations has acknowledged the achievements of Pakistan Army against terrorists in the operation Zarb-e-Azb.