December 31, 2017

A case for enhanced Finnish understanding of nuclear issues

Facing new realities: A case for enhanced Finnish understanding of nuclear issues

PUBLISHED 11/28/2017BRIEFING PAPER 228

INFO READING MODE

SUMMARYINTRODUCTIONNUCLEAR RISKS: THE NEW REALITIESIMPLICATIONS FOR FINLANDA CASE FOR ENHANCED FINNISH UNDERSTANDINGENDNOTES

SUMMARY

After a decades-long hiatus, nuclear weapon issues have returned to the forefront of international security concerns. In recent months, North Korea has made significant progress in its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programmes; President Donald Trump threatened to end US participation in the agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear activities; and over 40 countries signed the world’s first legally-binding treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, Russian military developments and perceived “sabre rattling” are prompting NATO to focus more attention on nuclear issues. The US, UK and French nuclear modernization programmes are not simply a response to Russia, but Moscow will likely portray them as such.

Finland’s security and prosperity increasingly depend upon a stable and secure international environment. New strategic realities could affect that environment in profound ways. Today, the threat of a military confrontation in the Nordic region is low in comparison with parts of Asia and the broader Middle East, but it cannot be seen as non-existent.

Finland will remain a non-nuclear weapon state. Its expertise in nuclear affairs traditionally focused on non-proliferation (via international agreements and EU activities) and arms control, but this has eroded during the past decade or so. Given the new realities, Finland should reverse that trend and enhance its understanding of the role of nuclear weapons in regional and global deterrence.

INTRODUCTION

Strategic issues involving nuclear weapons are once again at the forefront of international security concerns. Changes in the security environment threaten to halt or reverse progress in reducing nuclear arsenals, the risk of their use, and the spread of nuclear weapons beyond the nine states either declared or considered to hold them.1

Resorting to nuclear weapons anywhere on the globe would have profound geostrategic, humanitarian, and economic consequences. Small countries far removed from the conflict zone would not be immune to its aftershocks. This would be true for Finland and other EU member states, whose prosperity and security increasingly depend on a secure and stable international environment.

This paper describes ongoing nuclear weapons-related developments, and outlines their implications for Finland. It also recommends enhancing Finnish expertise in a range of strategic issues.

NUCLEAR RISKS: THE NEW REALITIES

The end of the Cold War opened up opportunities for reducing the risk of nuclear war, the proliferation of nuclear weapon states, and the size of nuclear arsenals through both negotiated and unilateral steps.2 Despite progress in some areas, there have been setbacks in others. Then Vice-President Joe Biden acknowledged this mixed picture in January 2017. After listing the Obama administration’s accomplishments – in strategic arms reductions, non-proliferation, and international cooperation to improve security for nuclear installations and materials – Biden observed: “(S)trategic stability with Russia…has eroded over the past few years”.3

Today, new nuclear realities are taking shape. They vary from region to region, involve different nuclear and missile capabilities, and require complex judgments on how best to deter nuclear or non-nuclear aggression.

Tensions in Asia

North Korea’s nuclear ambitions date back to the 1990s, but its recent actions – detonating a device with an estimated yield many times greater than the weapons that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and testing new ballistic missiles assessed as being capable of striking US territory, Japan, and South Korea— have sharply increased the risk of military conflict. Short of crossing the nuclear threshold, North Korea could inflict massive casualties on the South using conventional artillery and chemical weapons deployed near the Demilitarized Zone. US Defence Secretary James Mattis warns that a “military solution” would be “tragic on an unbelievable scale”.

The spike in tensions has raised new questions regarding the credibility of US defence guarantees. Recent polls show majorities of South Koreans favour a national nuclear weapons capability and the reintroduction of US non-strategic nuclear weapons based in their territory. Others in the region are “weighing their options”.

A failure of deterrence in Korea would have dramatic consequences. These might include: a sharp deterioration in US relations with China and Russia, which border North Korea; a reappraisal of US alliances with South Korea and/or Japan, especially if Washington were viewed as partly responsible for the conflict; and the transfer of US military assets from Europe to meet urgent warfighting and stabilization tasks in Asia.

Korea is not the only potential Asian hotspot. India and Pakistan have narrowly avoided a major war over the past decade. According to recent reports, India has weighed the possibility of pre-emptive nuclear strikes against Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. For its part, Pakistan is reportedly increasing its stock of “battlefield” nuclear weapons, which many analysts believe would heighten the risk of their early use in a crisis and offer a tempting target for seizure by terrorists.

Russia, NATO, and the “nuclear allies”

Americans and Europeans might not fully agree on the details of Russia’s evolving strategic doctrine, intentions, or appetite for risk-taking. However, they broadly agree on Russia’s impressive investment in nuclear modernization programmes, lack of interest in further deep reductions in strategic arsenals (or any meaningful limits on its large stockpile of non-strategic nuclear weapons), and practice of “nuclear sabre-rattling”. When such developments are set in the context of Russia’s conventional force improvements, there is little doubt that Moscow aims to increase its overall capability for power projection and make it more difficult for NATO to assist a threatened ally or partner.

In response, NATO is implementing its commitment, restated at the 2016 Warsaw Summit, to ensure that its nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure, and effective, and that allies retain the “broadest possible participation” in nuclear burden-sharing. NATO has criticized the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) for “disregard(ing) the realities of the increasingly challenging international security environment” and putting the existing non-proliferation structure at risk. NATO’s statement also pointedly calls upon its “partners and all countries who are considering supporting this treaty to seriously reflect on its implications for international peace and security”.4

Meanwhile, the “nuclear allies” are modernizing their deterrents. Successive centre-right and centre-left governments in the United Kingdom and France have concluded that an independent nuclear deterrent must remain a critical element of their national security strategy. Although concerns regarding Russia no doubt influence current UK and French assessments, their national security strategy documents make it clear that nuclear threats to their vital national interests could arise from other states as well.

Hence, in late 2016 the United Kingdom began constructing the first of four ballistic missile submarines to replace its current fleet, beginning in the early 2030s. Meanwhile, President Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed his decision to renew both components of the French deterrent of four ballistic missile submarines and three squadrons of “dual-capable” aircraft (DCA).5

The Pentagon is expected to complete the US Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) in early 2018. The NPR will likely reaffirm longstanding tenets of US nuclear policy and recommend renewing the US nuclear “triad” of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine- launched ballistic missiles, and long-range air-launched cruise missiles delivered by strategic bombers.6 This effort will stretch over decades and, according to government estimates, will cost around $400 billion over the next decade, or six per cent of the annual defence budget (as opposed to three per cent currently).

The NPR might also unveil some significant policy shifts foreshadowed in a May 2017 report by prominent non-government experts.7 For example, the report recommended explicitly setting deterrence of aggression and assurance of allies as the priority goals of US nuclear policy. This would relegate non-proliferation, preventing nuclear terrorism, and reducing the role of nuclear weapons in US strategy – the top priorities set by the Obama administration – to a lower rank, and open the door to a possible expansion of the US arsenal. The report also suggested extending NATO’s DCA arrangements to some Eastern European allies, while deploying US DCA to Japan and South Korea. While not ruling out new arms control measures with Russia, the experts advised strict preconditions for talks, such as an end to the Russian violation of the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.8

Missile defence is the subject of a separate review, which will also stir controversy. President Trump has promised a major boost in spending for missile defence. Some administration advisors reportedly favour expanding their scope to counter ballistic and cruise missile threats from Russia and China. If adopted, this would be a major break from the Obama and Bush administrations, which focused on protecting US and allied territory and forces against limited North Korean and Iranian missile threats.

Iran

President Trump has called for renegotiation of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA.) Under the JCPOA, Iran agreed to restrict certain nuclear activities in return for relief from sanctions imposed by the United States, the EU, Russia and China. His stated objective is to extend the scope and duration of JCPOA restrictions on Iran while making Western compliance conditional upon changes in Iranian behaviour outside the nuclear arena – such as ending its support for proxies in Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. However, he also warned that if his administration is unable to “reach a solution working with Congress and our allies…the (JCPOA) will be terminated”.

Iran has categorically rejected any renegotiation of the JCPOA. This sets the stage for a protracted deterioration of relations between Washington and Teheran, which already back opposing sides in several Middle East conflicts and in Afghanistan.

Trump’s decision has also roiled transatlantic relations. UK Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and President Emmanuel Macron issued a joint statement affirming that they “stand committed” to the accord. The three US allies worked hard to achieve the JCPOA, fearing that an unfettered Iranian nuclear programme would lead to wider proliferation in the region, and ultimately a US military intervention with unpredictable consequences.

IMPLICATIONS FOR FINLAND

The fact that Finland’s security and prosperity increasingly depend on a secure and stable international environment is hardly a new or controversial proposition.9However, the aforementioned new realities pose real risks to that security and prosperity.

Changes in the strategic environment related to Russia, NATO, and the “nuclear allies” directly affect Finnish security interests. Russian “nuclear sabre-rattling” directed at Denmark, Norway, and Sweden demonstrates that neither the presence of nuclear weapons in one’s territory nor membership in the Alliance are necessary to become the objects of such threats. Russia’s nuclear and conventional force improvements, deployments, and exercises are shortening warning times for military crises and, perhaps, lowering the Russian threshold for using force.

Indeed, NATO-Russia and US-Russia relations might worsen in the coming months. Moscow would condemn any suggestion in the Pentagon reviews that NATO should extend its nuclear burden-sharing to involve East European allies, or that US or NATO missile defence be reoriented to counter Russian systems. In light of President Vladimir Putin’s recent statement that “we have complied and we will comply with our old treaties, as long as our partners comply as well,” the prospects appear bleak for resuming any US-Russian dialogue on arms control.10 In a deteriorating atmosphere, Moscow might take aim at the increased cooperation between NATO and its Nordic partners. While the threat of a military confrontation in the Nordic region is low in comparison with Asia, it cannot be seen as non-existent. Russian leaders, for example, periodically warn that they would take unspecified “countermeasures” in response to any further NATO enlargement.11

Regarding the JCPOA, Finland’s fellow EU members – especially Germany, France, and the United Kingdom – will expect full support for their position to the effect that the international community must not dismantle the JCPOA as long as it functions. However, if the Trump administration implements its threat to terminate US participation, Washington will face a major tussle with Europe over whether to impose “snap back” UN sanctions on Iran. Finland’s interest in maintaining political solidarity within the EU does not obviate its need to understand the technical arguments for assessing Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA and its nuclear “breakout” potential if the agreement were to collapse.

The North Korean standoff could unravel with little warning. In the event of war, especially if nuclear weapons were used and/or nuclear debris were released by attacks on North Korean facilities, Finnish citizens in the region might require emergency evacuation and medical care. The Finnish government would face calls in the UN or EU to express solidarity with, or condemnation of, one of the belligerent sides, and to contribute to multilateral humanitarian assistance efforts. Moreover, a failure of US deterrence strategy in Korea would raise questions in Europe about America’s political will and military capability to deter aggression on this continent.

Similarly, if war erupted between Pakistan and India, Finnish citizens in the region would be at risk, and the humanitarian consequences would be catastrophic. Finland would face calls to join multilateral evacuation and relief efforts. In short, any notion that Finnish interests would be unaffected by a major conflict in “faraway” Korea and South Asia would prove illusory.

A CASE FOR ENHANCED FINNISH UNDERSTANDING

As a rule, Finnish discussions of nuclear weapons are very circumspect. Since the Cold War, officials and non-government experts have focused their analysis and engagement on non-proliferation (via international agreements and EU initiatives) and arms control. They have devoted less attention to the strategic landscape involving nuclear weapons programmes, evolving doctrines, and missile defence. In addition, the contribution of Western nuclear forces to deterrence rarely receives explicit acknowledgment.

Although ideological opposition to nuclear weapons appears more prevalent in Sweden, a certain moral opprobrium associated with such weapons exists in Finland as well. Anti-nuclear sentiments might intensify following the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision to award its coveted Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

Some Finns might be concerned that more public discussion of nuclear weapon-related issues would be politically polarizing. In Sweden’s case, the government (a coalition of the Social Democratic Party, or SDP, and Green Party) voted, in December 2016, for a resolution in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons.12 In July, Sweden approved the text of the TPNW. Yet, two months later, the government deferred a decision on whether to actually sign the Treaty due to sharp differences between the foreign minister (who favoured signing) and the defence minister (who opposed it.) The fact that both ministers belong to the SDP only served to make the situation even more politically awkward.

In addition, some might see a more public discussion as unnecessary and/or strategically counterproductive. Finland will never acquire or host nuclear weapons on its territory, as this would violate its longstanding commitments under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and national law. Why, then, should it risk being “drawn” into debates on nuclear weapons where differences exist among Europeans and where Russian sensitivities are obvious?

The answer, to paraphrase Leon Trotsky’s dictum on war, is: “You may not be interested in nuclear weapons, but nuclear weapons are interested in you”. Hence, Finland should consider three broad approaches consistent with its national sovereignty and interests in solidarity with its closest European and transatlantic partners.

Enhanced understanding of deterrence

The Finnish strategic community — government officials, parliamentarians, and think tanks — needs to stay abreast of changes in the strategic environment and nature of deterrence.

Although Finland is not a NATO ally, its growing national defence effort (in areas such as enhanced readiness and increased investment) contributes to conventional deterrence of potential aggression in the Nordic-Baltic region. The newly established European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats in Finland provides participating nations, the EU, and NATO with new capabilities to identify vulnerabilities and develop national and organizational resilience – another way of strengthening conventional deterrence.

The EU’s common foreign and security policy contributes to important non-proliferation objectives – for example, through JCPOA implementation and sanctions on North Korea. However, it will remain a marginal actor in decisions involving the role of nuclear weapons in Europe. Despite a flurry of interest earlier this year in a hypothetical “European deterrent”, there is no sign that France or the UK (especially post-Brexit) would offer their nuclear forces as a substitute for US “extended deterrence”, under either bilateral or EU-led arrangements.

Enhanced understanding of the nuclear dimensions of deterrence would complement, not detract from, Finnish interest in non-proliferation and arms control. Conversely, failure to keep abreast of the evolving and increasingly integrated nature of Russian doctrine, capabilities, exercises, deployments, and strategic messaging increases the risk of overreaction or passivity; either could encourage more destabilizing Russian behaviour. Failure to understand the changing dynamics of deterrence and the role of nuclear weapons would also leave Finland less prepared to anticipate and react to crises outside Europe.

Finland has the necessary basic institutional structures to regain and sustain governmental expertise. In some cases, high-level direction to conduct studies, recruit and train personnel, and hold realistic crisis management simulations will be required. That said, as a partner, Finland does not have access to the full range of information sharing and joint assessments available within NATO.

Avoiding prejudicial statements

Sweden’s recent experience with the TPNW reflects its particular domestic political circumstances. It also shows the inherent risk of advocating a principled position that appears to contradict the government’s actual conduct. It was not lost on foreign observers that some Swedish officials were advocating signing the Treaty while others were welcoming the participation of two nuclear powers, the United States and France, in Sweden’s largest military exercise in decades, Aurora 17. Indeed, Sweden’s defence ministry acknowledged that Aurora 17 was aimed at strengthening “deterrence” and exercising Sweden’s defence capability “against a larger, sophisticated opponent”.

If one accepts that Finland has a vital interest in maintaining peace and security in its region, and that this will require a continuing role for nuclear weapons as part of an effective deterrent against aggression, then Finland logically should take a long and hard look before joining efforts that delegitimize the possession of nuclear weapons or dilute the primacy of the NPT. The three nuclear allies are not the only ones opposed to such efforts; many non-nuclear allies, including Finland’s close neighbours, who are members of NATO and the EU, also have strong objections to the TPNW.

A “Next Generation” initiative

Some Finnish experts might be sceptical about the need for a more open and informed discussion of deterrence concepts and, in particular, the role of nuclear weapons. Indeed, apparently no Finnish university (including the National Defence University) offers a regular course specifically dedicated to deterrence, nuclear weapons, and missile defence.
Similar concerns exist elsewhere in the Nordic region. Yet others in Finland – along with counterparts in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark – have bemoaned their countries’ loss of expertise in strategic affairs. Thus, a collaborative effort among the Nordic countries would make sense.

As allies, Norway and Denmark support NATO nuclear policy declarations, which are agreed by consensus. Still, their longstanding policies: a) bar the stationing of nuclear weapons on their territory in peacetime; and b) effectively exclude their air forces from any direct role in conducting possible nuclear strike missions. Nonetheless, centre-left and centre-right governments in both countries have confronted anti-nuclear sentiments among political parties and public opinion.

As partners, Finland and Sweden participate in NATO-led operations, capability-development efforts, military exercises and, increasingly, in political-military consultations. Sweden, too, has been active in non-proliferation and arms control. Nevertheless, they have different experiences regarding nuclear weapons: for more than 20 years, Sweden (unlike Finland) explored options to develop a small nuclear force.

Despite their differences, all four countries will need a cadre of government and military experts able to track, analyse, and help formulate policy recommendations for decision-makers. The four already have bilateral and multilateral fora for defence and security cooperation, and their research institutes have good relations with each other and with US, British, and French counterparts.

Thus, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark should consider a cooperative initiative led by think tanks – and with appropriate government support – to ensure that their next generation of strategic thinkers and government advisers will be prepared to deal with the new realities coming their way.

ENDNOTES

1 The United States, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel. This paper should be read in conjunction with FIIA Working Paper 93, February 2017.

2 Michel, Leo, NATO as a Nuclear Alliance: Background and contemporary issues, FIIA Working Paper 93, 2017. http://www.fiia.fi/en/publication/661/nato_as_a_nuclear_alliance/, accessed 21 November 2017.

3 The White House, Office of the Vice President: Remarks by the Vice President on Nuclear Security, 11 (12) January 2017. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/12/remarks-vice-president-nuclear-security, accessed 21 November 2017.

4 NATO: “North Atlantic Council Statement on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”, 20 September 2017. http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_146954.htm, accessed 21 November 2017.

5 Combat aircraft capable of delivering nuclear or conventional weapons.

6 Democratic and Republican administrations have argued that nuclear weapons: provide a deterrent against aggression (nuclear or non-nuclear) aimed at the United States or its allies; underpin US ability to deploy conventional forces worldwide; and, by providing “extended deterrence” to non-nuclear allies, will dissuade them from acquiring their own nuclear arsenals.

National Institute for Public Policy: “A New Nuclear Review for a New Age”. National Institute Press, April 2017. http://www.nipp.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/A-New-Nuclear-Review-final.pdf, accessed 21 November 2017.

8 In 2014, the Obama administration declared that Russia had violated the INF prohibition on developing and testing a new intermediate-range ground-launched cruise missile. Russia reportedly deployed the missile in late 2016.

9 Prime Minister’s Office: “Government Report on Finnish Foreign and Security Policy”, Publications 9/2016. http://valtioneuvosto.fi/documents/10616/1986338/VNKJ092016+en.pdf/b33c3703-29f4-4cce-a910-b05e32b676b9, accessed 21 November 2017. Prime Minister’s Office: “Defence Report Prime Minister’s Office”, Publications 7/2017. http://www.defmin.fi/files/3688/J07_2017_Governments_Defence_Report_Eng_PLM_160217.pdf, accessed, 21 November 2017.

10 Valdai Discussion Club: “Vladimir Putin Meets with Members of the Valdai Discussion Club”. Transcript of the Plenary Session of the 14th Annual Meeting, 19 October 2017. http://valdaiclub.com/events/posts/articles/putin-meets-with-members-of-the-valdai-club/, accessed 21 November 2017.

11 The EU has not been spared Putin’s criticism; at Valdai, he said “Europe is to blame” for Ukraine.

12 Finland abstained on the resolution.

LEO MICHEL

VIERAILEVA VANHEMPI TUTKIJA - GLOBAALI TURVALLISUUS -TUTKIMUSOHJELMA

December 30, 2017

AAPI Launches Healthcare Clinic in Kolkata during Global Healthcare Summit 2017


AAPI Launches Healthcare Clinic in Kolkata during Global Healthcare Summit 2017

GHS packed with CMEs, award ceremony, gala, fashion and cultural shows

 

(Kolkata, WB, India: December 30th, 2017) The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Madhyamgram Metropolitan lunched a healthcare clinic offering medical care to the much need people of the region at the Prajapati Bhavan, Basunagar, Madhyamgram in the outskirts of Kolkata on December 29th, 2017, during the 11th annual Global Healthcare Summit which is underway at the historic City of Joy, Kolkata in West Bengal, India from December 28th to 31st.

Over 30 physicians of Indian origin, who are attending the GHS at the JW Marriott in Kolkata, led by Dr. Gautam Samadder, President of AAPI and Dr. Madhu Aggarwal, Chairwoman of the AAPI Charitable Foundation attended the free one day healthcare clinic at the suburban center, and treated over 200 patients during the day long clinic.

“This is the first ever clinic sponsored by AAPI in the state of West Bengal and this is the 15th across the nation,” Dr. Samadder told during a welcome reception organized by the local Rotary Club in honor of the physicians who had travelled early in the morning on a bus to serve the much needed patients at the clinic. “AAPI provides financial assistance and medical care by AAPI members to the people of this historic city,” he added.

“The new initiative with the Rotary Club will enable hundreds of visiting physicians from the US to come and devote their time and talents at the clinic in the coming moenths and years, whenever someone from the US visits the state for vacation or other business related trips to India,” Dr. Aggarwal said.

The local organizers, including the Rotary Club leaders assured AAPI members of their fullest cooperation and collaboration in their efforts to offer the much needed medical care to the people of this region by welcoming the physicians and enabling their mission to provide medical care to the local community.

GHS 2017 is attended by the over 1000 leading experts from several countries, and focusses on sharing best practices, developing efficient and cost effective solutions for India. The Honorable Shri Venkiah Naidu, the Vice President of India, will be the Chief Guest at the Closing Ceremony of the Summit on December 30th, 2017.

The Conference is being organized in partnership with the ministry of overseas Indian affairs and ministry of health and family welfare, along with collaboration with over 15 professional associations from all over the world.

The GHS 2017 features some of the biggest names in the healthcare industry, especially at the 6th annual CEO leadership forum with leaders from across the globe planned for December 30th. GHS 2017 is being attended by over 100 opinion leaders and expert speakers from many countries across the globe to present cutting edge scientific findings as these relate to clinical practice, representing major Centers of Excellence, Institutions, and Professional Associations are represented by the invited chairs and speakers.

The Global Healthcare Summit being heled here was packed with CMEs all day, which is a major objective of the Summit. The theme chosen for the GHS this year is Healthcare, Career and Commerce, with the focus on Women’s Healthcare, including high priority areas such as Cardiology, Maternal & Child Health, Diabetes, Oncology, Surgery, Mental Health, HIT, Allergy, Immunology & Lung Health, Gastroenterology, Transplant and impact of comorbidities.

Choreographed and designed by famous fashion designer, Nachiket Barve, AAPI members and leaders catwalked on the podium showcasing their talents, exquisite taste for the finest clothing and attire, proving yet again the Indian American physicians are not only famous for their brilliant healthcare, but alos could be leaders in the fashion world.

The final session of the three days long first responders training program ended on 28th with 50 more police/para medics personnel representing Kolkata Police, West Bengal Police, Kolkata Traffic Police, Police Training School, and Criminal Investigation Department, West Bengal.  Concluded here at the KPC Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata on the sidelines of the GHS. In collaboration with the American University of Antigua (AUA) College of Medicine, and the American Heart Association, AAPI was successful in imparting the much required training to over 150 people in the past three days. The lead trainers of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) Training Center, bringing it to the forefront of both international and national discussions and initiatives were recognized during the gala.  

Offering Trainings to First Responders, a CEO Forum by a galaxy of CEOs from around the world, inauguration of AAPI-sponsored clinic, CMEs, cultural events, Dinner Cruise on the Ganges, interactive roundtables, clinical practice workshops, scientific poster/research session and meet-the-expert sessions, Women’s Forum by internally acclaimed successful worm from India, a special session on Public-Private Partnership featuring AAPI Healthcare Charitable showcase & innovation, and Town Hall sessions resulting in a White Paper on helping create policies benefitting the people of India, are only some of the major highlights of the Healthcare Summit, Dr. Ashok Jain, Chair of AAPI BOT, said.

Dr. Naresh Parekh, President-Elect of AAPI, said, “Many of the physicians who are attending this convention have excelled in different specialties and subspecialties and occupy high positions as faculty members of medical schools, heads of departments, and executives of hospital staff. The GHS offers an opportunity to meet directly with these physicians who are leaders in their fields and play an integral part in the decision-making process regarding new products and services,” he said.

During a press conference attended by the media at the Hotel, members of the leading print and electronic media interacted with AAPI leaders, including Dr. Samadder, President of AAPI, Dr. Sampat Shivangi, chair of AAPI’s Legislative Committee, Anwar Feroz, AAPI’s Statagic Adviser, and Dr. Chandan K Sen, Chairman, AAPI Global Healthcare Summit – Kolkata.

“This GHS promises to be one with the greatest impact and significant contributions towards harnessing the power of international Indian diaspora to bring the most innovative, efficient, cost effective healthcare solutions to India,” described Dr. Gautam Samadder, President of AAPI.  “AAPI has capped the voluminous achievements of the past 34 years with a clear vision to move forward taking this noble organization to newer heights.”

According to Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, Secretary of AAPI, the scientific program of GHS 2017 was developed by leading experts with the contributions of a stellar Scientific Advisory Board and International Scientific Committee, while the event featuring plenary sessions, interactive round-tables, clinical practice workshops, and meet the expert sessions.

The day long events came to a close with a sumptuous dinner and  a live music concert by popular Bollywood singer Usha Uthup, who kept the audience spell bound for over two hours with her melodious singing and live interaction with the audience.   

Coming from a nation that has given much to the world, today physicians of Indian origin have become a powerful influence in medicine across the world - from North America and Great Britain to East Africa, Malaysia, and Singapore. Nowhere is their authority more keenly felt than in the United States, where Indians make up the largest non-Caucasian segment of the American medical community. The overrepresentation of Indians in the field of medicine is striking – in practical terms, one out of seven doctors in the United States is of Indian Heritage. They provide medical care to over 40 million of US population.

 

The growing clout of the physicians of Indian origin in the United States is seen everywhere as several physicians of Indian origin hold critical positions in the healthcare, academic, research and administrative positions across the nation. Indian doctors have carved a comfortable niche in the American medical community and have earned a name for themselves with their hard work, dedication, compassion, and amazing skills and talents.

 

Representing the voice of the over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin, leaders of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic organization of physicians, come together today to felicitate Shri Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India on his maiden visit to the greatest democratic nation in the world.

 

AAPI has been strategically engaged in working with the Union and State Governments of India for the past ten years and has collaborated with more than 35 professional medical associations, pharmaceutical and medical device companies to address the health care challenges of a rapidly developing India. “It is the passion, willingness and staunch loyalty towards the former motherland that draws several AAPI members to join this effort & by working with experts in India, AAPI is able to bring solutions that are India centric & takes us closer to our lofty vision of making quality healthcare affordable & accessible to all people of India,” said Dr. Gautam Samadder.

“With the changing trends and statistics in healthcare, both in India and US, we are refocusing our mission and vision, AAPI would like to make a positive meaningful impact on the healthcare delivery system both in the US and in India,” Dr. Samadder said. For more information on Global Health Summit, please visit www.aapiusa.org

 

 Captions

1.      AAPI sponsored free healthcare clinic being launched i at the Prajapati Bhavan, Basunagar, Madhyamgram in the outskirts of Kolkata on December 29th

2.      Dr. Gautam Samadder being felicitated by Rotary Club president for initiating the AAPI sponsored clinic in the state of West Bengal

3.      Fashion parade led by Dr. Samadder and choreographed by fashion designer from Mumbai, Nachiketa Barve

4.      AAPI leaders and guests on the podium during the gala on December 29th

5.      Usha Utup ‘s mesmerizing performance at the GHS 2017

 

 

 

 

Ajay Ghosh

AAPI Media Coordinator

(203) 583-6750

December 28, 2017

‘There isn’t going to be a war between India and China today’, says Bertil Lintner


‘There isn’t going to be a war between India and China today’, says Bertil Lintner

The Hindu

Suhasini Haidar

DECEMBER 27, 2017 00:02 IST

UPDATED: DECEMBER 27, 2017 08:09 IST

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interview

The scholar of India-China relations on the contours of the ‘new Cold War’ in Asia, and Beijing’s vision for the Indian Ocean

Swedish journalist and strategic analyst Bertil Lintner has spent most of his career in Asia, writing about India and China and mapping the increasingly contested region the two countries share. His book, ‘China’s India War: Collision Course on the Roof of the World’, has just been published. Here he speaks about the challenge to India from China in South Asia, his research on the 1962 war, and why he thinks there will not be another India-China war, even as India firms its counter-alliance in the Indo-Pacific. Excerpts

Your latest book on the 1962 war challenges the idea that India triggered it, and its title “China’s India War” counters Neville Maxwell’s account called “India’s China War”.

You can say that all the books on the 1962 war fall into [different] categories. The first by Indian military officers who served during the war, and they are essentially military histories about how the battles were fought and so on. But they don’t give the geopolitical context. The second is the category of scholarly books on the border dispute. Now here it is important to remember the difference in political culture between India and China. India has a strong legalistic approach, with courts and laws being very important. China, on the other hand, dismisses all treaties that it doesn’t like by calling them ‘unequal treaties’ which were imposed on China when China was weak. But even in more modern days, when China is strong, these treaties mean nothing.

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Myth and reality in India-China relations

 

Recently, the Chinese foreign ministry said that the treaty with Britain over Hong Kong was now history, or that the international court ruling on the South China Sea favouring the Philippines was just an unfair judgment. And as I point out in the book, while India was preparing White Papers and documentation and maps and copies of treaties on the boundary, China was preparing for war.

As early as 1959, you say in the book…

Yes, and the reason that people like Maxwell and others thought it was India’s forward policy that provoked the war was because China was a very closed society in those days. People were not even aware at the time that tens of millions of people had died in a famine in China as a result of the Great Leap Forward, and there was a crisis within the Communist Party. Mao Zedong was at his least popular moment in 1949 and Mao needed to unite the party and the country behind himself. India was a convenient enemy because the Dalai Lama had been given refuge here in 1959. The other reason was that in the 1950s, India under Jawaharlal Nehru had become the main voice for newly independent countries in Asia and Africa. India initiated the Non-Aligned Movement, gave the language of Panchsheel. Now at the time, the West’s three-world theory saw the Western Bloc, the Eastern Bloc, and the global South (underdeveloped world). The Chinese view of the world was the superpowers, the lesser powers, and the poor countries (Third World). China wanted to become the leader of the revolutionary forces in the Third World and had to dethrone India from that position. After the war, Mao became strong enough to begin the cultural war, and Nehru, who died a broken man two years later, was no longer able to lead India as a spokesman of the Third World and Asia.

You’ve written about the roles of the Soviet Union and the U.S. as key to the outcome in 1962. In a war-like situation between India and China today, what position would the U.S. and Russia take?

Well, first of all, I don’t think there is going to be a war between India and China today. Trade is too important. I think what we’re seeing today is a new Cold War in Asia, an informal alliance between India and Japan [versus China]. The United States is a bit unpredictable under Donald Trump, but it had under Barack Obama embarked on a pivot to Asia, with the rise of China as the main concern. For the first time, since the 15th century and Admiral Zheng He, the Chinese are now in the Indian Ocean. China didn’t even have a proper navy until recently. So now when it talks of One Belt One Road, and the ancient maritime trade routes, it must be remembered it’s not so ancient. In the Indian Ocean, you have India, which considers it its own lake, as it were. But also in the Indian Ocean is the U.S.’s most important base, Diego Garcia. And the French control 2.5 million acres of land in the Indian Ocean. This is why these alliances are growing.

To come back to the land boundary, you have said that the Doklam stand-off this year was not about China’s designs on India, but aimed to drive a wedge between India and Bhutan. Why do you say that?

Bhutan is China’s only neighbour that doesn’t have diplomatic ties with it. Relations are maintained through these boundary talks, which have been going on for more than two decades. Bhutan has been under Indian influence, but it is now asserting itself as a sovereign power. Why did China even need the road in Doklam? Maybe the plan was to get Indian troops out of Haa (Bhutan’s Haa Valley) and get them more directly involved in this conflict, which would embarrass many Bhutanese. You can see the statements from Bhutan at the time, which were very cautious, and many Bhutanese think that India overreacted and wanted to show its control over Bhutan. China is on a charm offensive there (in Bhutan). They’re sending acrobats there, circus performers, football teams, tourists, scholarships for students. Clearly China wants to extend its influence to all its neighbours, and that includes Bhutan.

What does this mean for India-China relations in the future, especially the resolution of the boundary question?

I think the Indian Ocean is going to become the biggest challenge in the near future. I find it hard to believe they will fight another war in the Himalayas. China has in the past suggested a swap between Arunachal/South Tibet and Aksai Chin. On paper that sounds reasonable, but we don’t know how serious the Chinese are. Also, if China were to accept the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as the border, it could control any dissidence within. In India, which is a democracy, the government couldn’t just go ahead with that solution… it would be political suicide. So this package is a non-starter. But in the larger picture, China doesn’t care if the boundary remains unresolved. They are not looking for a solution, they are looking for a strategic advantage. Where there is a conflict of interest building up is in the Indian Ocean. And the joint naval exercises with Australia and other countries is important. While visiting the Andaman Islands recently, I was told that the U.S. navy was visiting Port Blair. Now we know that they are not there to learn to rescue shipwrecks and play cricket.

Do you see the newly convened “Quad”, of India, Australia, Japan and the U.S., building up as a military alliance?

Yes, I think so. It is almost inevitable. Nobody really wants to talk about it, but it will come. It has to do with the rise of China, and with economic power will come political power and then military power, which you need to protect your interests.

In your previous book, ‘Great Game East’, you dealt with China’s inroads in the Indian subcontinent, from Myanmar to the Maldives. The Maldives has recently concluded a free trade agreement with China, and is growing much closer to Beijing in all respects. The question is, how can India counter China’s obvious advantage in terms of money power?

Well so far, India has been an observer, and not done that much really. The same thing is happening in the Seychelles. China is paying enormous attention to the country, of less than 100,000 people. India’s eastern border with Myanmar is so much more important, for example. But India spends an inordinate time on its western border (with Pakistan). Myanmar is China’s corridor to the Indian Ocean. What India can do to counter it is to pay more attention.

Do you think India’s position on the Belt and Road Initiative, which every neighbour except Bhutan has joined, will be effective or counter-productive?

I think on the Belt and Road Initiative, India should have made its opposition to it much earlier, and articulated its concerns better, because they were lost on most outside observers.

Will the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) change the politics of the region?

So far, I don’t think the CPEC has been much of a success. Pakistan is not a stable country, and China will have to deal more and more with its internal dynamics. Plus, the CPEC connects to Xinjiang, away from China’s economic centres, unlike, say, Myanmar that connects to China’s eastern economic zones and ports. Over the past year, given the problems in Rakhine state, China is even looking for a third route into the Indian Ocean to bypass the choke-point at the Strait of Malacca. Here China is pushing the idea of the Kra Canal (from Gulf of Thailand to the Andaman Sea). So for China what is important is the goal, not so much the routes to it.

Moving to the east, is China’s control in Myanmar inevitable, or is there something India can do?

India has three main problems on its boundary with Myanmar compared to China. The first is infrastructure. On Myanmar’s northern border, China has super-highways, an airport not far from the border. Kunming has been upgraded to a huge international airport. On the Indian side, infrastructure is still a major problem. It’s better than 10 years ago perhaps, but not comparable to what already exists on the Chinese side.

ALSO READ

On the line: on India-China boundary talks

 

The other problem is red-tape and bureaucracy, and it seems that the Chinese Communist Party are better capitalists than India, a democracy, is. There are still many trade restrictions on the Indian side and several checkpoints. An integrated checkpoint, which is being planned by India, will help. The third problem is from underground rebel groups operating on the Indian side, which can carry out attacks and extort money all along the border. Anyone with a gun can demand anything. But I can say with certainty that people of Myanmar would like to do much more trade with India, because the dependence on China is so massive, it is worrying for everyone, including their military

‘There isn’t going to be a war between India and China today’, says Bertil Lintner


‘There isn’t going to be a war between India and China today’, says Bertil Lintner

The Hindu

Suhasini Haidar

DECEMBER 27, 2017 00:02 IST

UPDATED: DECEMBER 27, 2017 08:09 IST

MORE-IN

interview

The scholar of India-China relations on the contours of the ‘new Cold War’ in Asia, and Beijing’s vision for the Indian Ocean

Swedish journalist and strategic analyst Bertil Lintner has spent most of his career in Asia, writing about India and China and mapping the increasingly contested region the two countries share. His book, ‘China’s India War: Collision Course on the Roof of the World’, has just been published. Here he speaks about the challenge to India from China in South Asia, his research on the 1962 war, and why he thinks there will not be another India-China war, even as India firms its counter-alliance in the Indo-Pacific. Excerpts

Your latest book on the 1962 war challenges the idea that India triggered it, and its title “China’s India War” counters Neville Maxwell’s account called “India’s China War”.

You can say that all the books on the 1962 war fall into [different] categories. The first by Indian military officers who served during the war, and they are essentially military histories about how the battles were fought and so on. But they don’t give the geopolitical context. The second is the category of scholarly books on the border dispute. Now here it is important to remember the difference in political culture between India and China. India has a strong legalistic approach, with courts and laws being very important. China, on the other hand, dismisses all treaties that it doesn’t like by calling them ‘unequal treaties’ which were imposed on China when China was weak. But even in more modern days, when China is strong, these treaties mean nothing.

ALSO READ

Myth and reality in India-China relations

 

Recently, the Chinese foreign ministry said that the treaty with Britain over Hong Kong was now history, or that the international court ruling on the South China Sea favouring the Philippines was just an unfair judgment. And as I point out in the book, while India was preparing White Papers and documentation and maps and copies of treaties on the boundary, China was preparing for war.

As early as 1959, you say in the book…

Yes, and the reason that people like Maxwell and others thought it was India’s forward policy that provoked the war was because China was a very closed society in those days. People were not even aware at the time that tens of millions of people had died in a famine in China as a result of the Great Leap Forward, and there was a crisis within the Communist Party. Mao Zedong was at his least popular moment in 1949 and Mao needed to unite the party and the country behind himself. India was a convenient enemy because the Dalai Lama had been given refuge here in 1959. The other reason was that in the 1950s, India under Jawaharlal Nehru had become the main voice for newly independent countries in Asia and Africa. India initiated the Non-Aligned Movement, gave the language of Panchsheel. Now at the time, the West’s three-world theory saw the Western Bloc, the Eastern Bloc, and the global South (underdeveloped world). The Chinese view of the world was the superpowers, the lesser powers, and the poor countries (Third World). China wanted to become the leader of the revolutionary forces in the Third World and had to dethrone India from that position. After the war, Mao became strong enough to begin the cultural war, and Nehru, who died a broken man two years later, was no longer able to lead India as a spokesman of the Third World and Asia.

You’ve written about the roles of the Soviet Union and the U.S. as key to the outcome in 1962. In a war-like situation between India and China today, what position would the U.S. and Russia take?

Well, first of all, I don’t think there is going to be a war between India and China today. Trade is too important. I think what we’re seeing today is a new Cold War in Asia, an informal alliance between India and Japan [versus China]. The United States is a bit unpredictable under Donald Trump, but it had under Barack Obama embarked on a pivot to Asia, with the rise of China as the main concern. For the first time, since the 15th century and Admiral Zheng He, the Chinese are now in the Indian Ocean. China didn’t even have a proper navy until recently. So now when it talks of One Belt One Road, and the ancient maritime trade routes, it must be remembered it’s not so ancient. In the Indian Ocean, you have India, which considers it its own lake, as it were. But also in the Indian Ocean is the U.S.’s most important base, Diego Garcia. And the French control 2.5 million acres of land in the Indian Ocean. This is why these alliances are growing.

To come back to the land boundary, you have said that the Doklam stand-off this year was not about China’s designs on India, but aimed to drive a wedge between India and Bhutan. Why do you say that?

Bhutan is China’s only neighbour that doesn’t have diplomatic ties with it. Relations are maintained through these boundary talks, which have been going on for more than two decades. Bhutan has been under Indian influence, but it is now asserting itself as a sovereign power. Why did China even need the road in Doklam? Maybe the plan was to get Indian troops out of Haa (Bhutan’s Haa Valley) and get them more directly involved in this conflict, which would embarrass many Bhutanese. You can see the statements from Bhutan at the time, which were very cautious, and many Bhutanese think that India overreacted and wanted to show its control over Bhutan. China is on a charm offensive there (in Bhutan). They’re sending acrobats there, circus performers, football teams, tourists, scholarships for students. Clearly China wants to extend its influence to all its neighbours, and that includes Bhutan.

What does this mean for India-China relations in the future, especially the resolution of the boundary question?

I think the Indian Ocean is going to become the biggest challenge in the near future. I find it hard to believe they will fight another war in the Himalayas. China has in the past suggested a swap between Arunachal/South Tibet and Aksai Chin. On paper that sounds reasonable, but we don’t know how serious the Chinese are. Also, if China were to accept the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as the border, it could control any dissidence within. In India, which is a democracy, the government couldn’t just go ahead with that solution… it would be political suicide. So this package is a non-starter. But in the larger picture, China doesn’t care if the boundary remains unresolved. They are not looking for a solution, they are looking for a strategic advantage. Where there is a conflict of interest building up is in the Indian Ocean. And the joint naval exercises with Australia and other countries is important. While visiting the Andaman Islands recently, I was told that the U.S. navy was visiting Port Blair. Now we know that they are not there to learn to rescue shipwrecks and play cricket.

Do you see the newly convened “Quad”, of India, Australia, Japan and the U.S., building up as a military alliance?

Yes, I think so. It is almost inevitable. Nobody really wants to talk about it, but it will come. It has to do with the rise of China, and with economic power will come political power and then military power, which you need to protect your interests.

In your previous book, ‘Great Game East’, you dealt with China’s inroads in the Indian subcontinent, from Myanmar to the Maldives. The Maldives has recently concluded a free trade agreement with China, and is growing much closer to Beijing in all respects. The question is, how can India counter China’s obvious advantage in terms of money power?

Well so far, India has been an observer, and not done that much really. The same thing is happening in the Seychelles. China is paying enormous attention to the country, of less than 100,000 people. India’s eastern border with Myanmar is so much more important, for example. But India spends an inordinate time on its western border (with Pakistan). Myanmar is China’s corridor to the Indian Ocean. What India can do to counter it is to pay more attention.

Do you think India’s position on the Belt and Road Initiative, which every neighbour except Bhutan has joined, will be effective or counter-productive?

I think on the Belt and Road Initiative, India should have made its opposition to it much earlier, and articulated its concerns better, because they were lost on most outside observers.

Will the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) change the politics of the region?

So far, I don’t think the CPEC has been much of a success. Pakistan is not a stable country, and China will have to deal more and more with its internal dynamics. Plus, the CPEC connects to Xinjiang, away from China’s economic centres, unlike, say, Myanmar that connects to China’s eastern economic zones and ports. Over the past year, given the problems in Rakhine state, China is even looking for a third route into the Indian Ocean to bypass the choke-point at the Strait of Malacca. Here China is pushing the idea of the Kra Canal (from Gulf of Thailand to the Andaman Sea). So for China what is important is the goal, not so much the routes to it.

Moving to the east, is China’s control in Myanmar inevitable, or is there something India can do?

India has three main problems on its boundary with Myanmar compared to China. The first is infrastructure. On Myanmar’s northern border, China has super-highways, an airport not far from the border. Kunming has been upgraded to a huge international airport. On the Indian side, infrastructure is still a major problem. It’s better than 10 years ago perhaps, but not comparable to what already exists on the Chinese side.

ALSO READ

On the line: on India-China boundary talks

 

The other problem is red-tape and bureaucracy, and it seems that the Chinese Communist Party are better capitalists than India, a democracy, is. There are still many trade restrictions on the Indian side and several checkpoints. An integrated checkpoint, which is being planned by India, will help. The third problem is from underground rebel groups operating on the Indian side, which can carry out attacks and extort money all along the border. Anyone with a gun can demand anything. But I can say with certainty that people of Myanmar would like to do much more trade with India, because the dependence on China is so massive, it is worrying for everyone, including their military

One million people need to read this article & read it again


~ Maria Wirth

One million people need to read this article & read it again:

Though I have lived in India for a long time, there are still issues here that I find hard to understand. For example, why do so many educated Indians become agitated when India is referred to as a Hindu country? The majority of Indians are Hindus. India is special because of its ancient Hindu tradition. Westerners are drawn to India because of Hinduism. Why then is there this resistance by many Indians to acknowledge the Hindu roots of their country? Why do some people even give the impression that an India which valued those roots would be dangerous? Don’t they know better?

This attitude is strange for two reasons. First, those educated Indians seem to have a problem only with “Hindu” India, but not with “Muslim” or “Christian” countries. Germany, for example, is a secular country, and only 59 percent of the population are registered with the two big Christian churches (Protestant and Catholic). Nevertheless, the country is bracketed under “Christian countries” and no one objects. Angela Merkel, the Chancellor, stressed recently the Christian roots of Germany and urged the population “to go back to Christian values.” In 2012 she postponed her trip to the G-8 summit to make a public address on Katholikentag, “Catholics Day.” Two major political parties carry Christian in their name, including Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.

Germans are not agitated that Germany is called a Christian country, though I actually would understand if they were. After all, the history of the Church is appalling. The so-called success story of Christianity depended greatly on tyranny. “Convert or die” were the options given—not only some five hundred years ago to the indigenous population in America, but also in Germany, 1,200 years ago, when the emperor Karl the Great ordered the death sentence for refusal of baptism in his newly conquered realms. This provoked his advisor Alkuin to comment: “One can force them to baptism, but how to force them to believe?”

Those times, when one’s life was in danger for dissenting with the dogmas of Christianity, are thankfully over. Today many in the West do dissent and are leaving the Church in a steady stream. They are disgusted with the less-than-holy behavior of Church officials and they also can’t believe in the dogmas, for example that “Jesus is the only way” and that God sends all those who don’t accept this to hell.

The second reason why I can’t understand the resistance to associate India with Hinduism is that Hinduism is in a different category from the Abrahamic religions. Its history, compared to Christianity and Islam, was undoubtedly the least violent as it spread in ancient times by convincing arguments and not by force. It is not a belief system that demands blind acceptance of dogmas and the suspension of one’s intelligence. On the contrary, Hinduism encourages using one’s intelligence to the hilt. It is an enquiry into truth based on a refined character and intellect. It comprises a huge body of ancient literature, not only regarding dharma and philosophy, but also regarding music, architecture, dance, science, astronomy, economics, politics, etc. If Germany or any other Western country had this kind of literary treasure, it would be so proud and highlight its greatness on every occasion. When I discovered the Upanishads, for example, I was stunned. Here was expressed in clear terms what I intuitively had felt to be true, but could not have expressed clearly. Brahman is not partial; it is the invisible, indivisible essence in everything. Everyone gets again and again a chance to discover the ultimate truth and is free to choose his way back to it. Helpful hints are given but not imposed.

In my early days in India I thought every Indian knew and valued his tradition. Slowly I realized I was wrong. The British colonial masters had been successful in not only weaning away many of the elite from their ancient tradition but even making them despise it. It helped that the British-educated class could no longer read the original Sanskrit texts and believed what the British told them. This lack of knowledge and the brainwashing by the British education may be the reason why many so-called “modern” Indians are against anything Hindu. They don’t realize the difference between Western religions that have to be believed (or at least professed) blindly, and which discourage, if not forbid, their adherents to think on their own, and the multi-layered Hindu Dharma which gives freedom and encourages using one’s intelligence.

Many of the Indian educated class do not realize that those who dream of imposing Christianity or Islam on this vast country will applaud them for denigrating Hindu Dharma, because this creates a vacuum where Western ideas can easier gain a foothold. At the same time, many Westerners, including staunch Christians, know the value of Hindu culture and surreptitiously appropriate insights from the vast Indian knowledge system, drop the original Hindu source and present it either as their own or make it look as if these insights had already been known in the West. As the West appropriates valuable and exclusive Hindu assets, what it leaves behind is deemed inferior. Unwittingly, these Indians are helping what Rajiv Malhotra of Infinity Foundation calls the digestion of Dharma civilization into Western universalism. That which is being digested, a deer for example, in this case Hindu Dharma, disappears whereas the digester (a tiger) becomes stronger.

If only missionaries denigrated Hindu Dharma, it would not be so bad, as they clearly have an agenda which discerning Indians would detect. But sadly, Indians with Hindu names assist them because they wrongly believe Hinduism is inferior to Western religions. They belittle everything Hindu instead of getting thorough knowledge. As a rule, they know little about their tradition except what the British have told them, i.e., that the major features are the caste system and idol worship. They don’t realize that India would gain, not lose, if it solidly backed its profound and all-inclusive Hindu tradition. The Dalai Lama said some time ago that, as a youth in Lhasa, he had been deeply impressed by the richness of Indian thought. “India has great potential to help the world,” he added.

When will the Westernized Indian elite realize it?

One million people need to read this article & read it again


~ Maria Wirth

One million people need to read this article & read it again:

Though I have lived in India for a long time, there are still issues here that I find hard to understand. For example, why do so many educated Indians become agitated when India is referred to as a Hindu country? The majority of Indians are Hindus. India is special because of its ancient Hindu tradition. Westerners are drawn to India because of Hinduism. Why then is there this resistance by many Indians to acknowledge the Hindu roots of their country? Why do some people even give the impression that an India which valued those roots would be dangerous? Don’t they know better?

This attitude is strange for two reasons. First, those educated Indians seem to have a problem only with “Hindu” India, but not with “Muslim” or “Christian” countries. Germany, for example, is a secular country, and only 59 percent of the population are registered with the two big Christian churches (Protestant and Catholic). Nevertheless, the country is bracketed under “Christian countries” and no one objects. Angela Merkel, the Chancellor, stressed recently the Christian roots of Germany and urged the population “to go back to Christian values.” In 2012 she postponed her trip to the G-8 summit to make a public address on Katholikentag, “Catholics Day.” Two major political parties carry Christian in their name, including Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.

Germans are not agitated that Germany is called a Christian country, though I actually would understand if they were. After all, the history of the Church is appalling. The so-called success story of Christianity depended greatly on tyranny. “Convert or die” were the options given—not only some five hundred years ago to the indigenous population in America, but also in Germany, 1,200 years ago, when the emperor Karl the Great ordered the death sentence for refusal of baptism in his newly conquered realms. This provoked his advisor Alkuin to comment: “One can force them to baptism, but how to force them to believe?”

Those times, when one’s life was in danger for dissenting with the dogmas of Christianity, are thankfully over. Today many in the West do dissent and are leaving the Church in a steady stream. They are disgusted with the less-than-holy behavior of Church officials and they also can’t believe in the dogmas, for example that “Jesus is the only way” and that God sends all those who don’t accept this to hell.

The second reason why I can’t understand the resistance to associate India with Hinduism is that Hinduism is in a different category from the Abrahamic religions. Its history, compared to Christianity and Islam, was undoubtedly the least violent as it spread in ancient times by convincing arguments and not by force. It is not a belief system that demands blind acceptance of dogmas and the suspension of one’s intelligence. On the contrary, Hinduism encourages using one’s intelligence to the hilt. It is an enquiry into truth based on a refined character and intellect. It comprises a huge body of ancient literature, not only regarding dharma and philosophy, but also regarding music, architecture, dance, science, astronomy, economics, politics, etc. If Germany or any other Western country had this kind of literary treasure, it would be so proud and highlight its greatness on every occasion. When I discovered the Upanishads, for example, I was stunned. Here was expressed in clear terms what I intuitively had felt to be true, but could not have expressed clearly. Brahman is not partial; it is the invisible, indivisible essence in everything. Everyone gets again and again a chance to discover the ultimate truth and is free to choose his way back to it. Helpful hints are given but not imposed.

In my early days in India I thought every Indian knew and valued his tradition. Slowly I realized I was wrong. The British colonial masters had been successful in not only weaning away many of the elite from their ancient tradition but even making them despise it. It helped that the British-educated class could no longer read the original Sanskrit texts and believed what the British told them. This lack of knowledge and the brainwashing by the British education may be the reason why many so-called “modern” Indians are against anything Hindu. They don’t realize the difference between Western religions that have to be believed (or at least professed) blindly, and which discourage, if not forbid, their adherents to think on their own, and the multi-layered Hindu Dharma which gives freedom and encourages using one’s intelligence.

Many of the Indian educated class do not realize that those who dream of imposing Christianity or Islam on this vast country will applaud them for denigrating Hindu Dharma, because this creates a vacuum where Western ideas can easier gain a foothold. At the same time, many Westerners, including staunch Christians, know the value of Hindu culture and surreptitiously appropriate insights from the vast Indian knowledge system, drop the original Hindu source and present it either as their own or make it look as if these insights had already been known in the West. As the West appropriates valuable and exclusive Hindu assets, what it leaves behind is deemed inferior. Unwittingly, these Indians are helping what Rajiv Malhotra of Infinity Foundation calls the digestion of Dharma civilization into Western universalism. That which is being digested, a deer for example, in this case Hindu Dharma, disappears whereas the digester (a tiger) becomes stronger.

If only missionaries denigrated Hindu Dharma, it would not be so bad, as they clearly have an agenda which discerning Indians would detect. But sadly, Indians with Hindu names assist them because they wrongly believe Hinduism is inferior to Western religions. They belittle everything Hindu instead of getting thorough knowledge. As a rule, they know little about their tradition except what the British have told them, i.e., that the major features are the caste system and idol worship. They don’t realize that India would gain, not lose, if it solidly backed its profound and all-inclusive Hindu tradition. The Dalai Lama said some time ago that, as a youth in Lhasa, he had been deeply impressed by the richness of Indian thought. “India has great potential to help the world,” he added.

When will the Westernized Indian elite realize it?

The Chinese road to dusty debt

http://m.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/the-chinese-road-to-dusty-debt/article10003542.ece

Updated: December 27, 2017 19:24 IST | G Parthasarathy

Hambantota port: Too big a burden to bear | RK Radhakrishnan

While Sri Lanka and Pakistan are in over their heads, Myanmar and Indonesia offer some resistance to ‘aid’ from Beijing

China’s much touted ‘silk roads’ and ‘maritime silk routes’ trace their origin to its trade across Central Asia and the Indian Ocean. Interestingly, silk constituted a relatively small portion of Chinese trade, though it gave an exotic content to what was primarily commercial activity in which China was the principal beneficiary.

The maritime silk route across the Indian Ocean was first set during the course of seven expeditions between 1404 and 1433 by a Chinese naval fleet headed by Admiral Zheng He, a Mongolian Muslim eunuch appointed by Ming emperor Yongle. During the course of expeditions to Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Calicut, Zheng brought back kings and princes to ‘Kowtow’ (genuflect) before the Ming emperor.

Exploitative actions

Indonesia has ensured that it responds cautiously to Chinese inducements and avoids getting closely drawn into a Chinese embrace. Beijing, however, seems to have drawn Sri Lanka into its web, taking advantage of the island’s economic vulnerabilities. After visiting Calicut in 1406, Zheng returned to Sri Lanka in 1411 with a large army to take revenge for an earlier perceived insult. Parts of the island were plundered and the Sri Lankan king, Vira Alakeswara, was taken back to Nanjing, together with the holy ‘tooth relic’ of the Buddha; the king was replaced by a ‘malleable’ ruler. While the humiliated king was returned to his people a few years later, the tooth relic was returned six centuries later, in 1960, by Prime Minister Chou en Lai, as a gesture of “goodwill”, Chinese style. Chinese trade was historically as exploitative as trade by the British East India Company.

Today, Colombo is full of hoardings of China’s “magnanimity”, manifested in its “assistance” in infrastructure, industrial and construction projects. Beyond the Galle Main Road in Colombo is the $1.4-billion Port City Project to be filled with Chinese built, owned, or managed luxury apartments, golf course, theme park, hotels and office buildings. All these will soon become part of Sri Lanka’s mounting official debt burden. This will accentuate the already unbearable debt burden Colombo has accumulated from earlier Chinese “aid”. The main instruments of this “aid” and plunder of natural resources are the China Communications Construction Company and its subsidiary, the China Harbour Engineering Company. The World Bank has blacklisted both these companies across the world because of their corrupt practices, including bribery. The only well-executed and profitable Chinese-built project in Sri Lanka is the container terminal in Colombo.

Apart from this, Chinese projects located in President Mahinda Rajapakse’s constituency, Hambantota, have imposed an unsustainable debt burden on Sri Lanka. Given the western aversion for his regime and Indian doubts about the project’s viability, Rajapakse welcomed Chinese “assistance” to develop his constituency. He sought and obtained Chinese “support” to heavily finance projects ranging from the Hambantota port, to a power plant, an airport, an industrial park, a cricket stadium and a sports complex. All these investments have proved uneconomical. Hardly any ships visit Hambantota , barely one aircraft lands in the airport daily, and the sports facilities remained unutilised, even as locals were outraged by the proposed construction of an industrial park. Sri Lanka has been spending 90 per cent of government revenues to service debts.

Pressure tactics

Unable to repay its debts, Sri Lanka has been forced to convert Chinese investments into equity in Hambantota, giving the Chinese partial ownership of the port. Following discreet Indian expressions of concern, Sri Lanka has retained operational control of Hambantota port, ensuring that Chinese submarines and warships do not freely berth there.

Some pre-emptive action has also been taken to ensure that the eastern port of Trincomalee does not become the next port of interest for Chinese strategic ambitions, thanks to the timely initiative of Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. The Indian Oil Corporation has established a business presence in Sri Lanka for progressive involvement in the use of Trincomalee for import and processing of petroleum products. It is imperative to build on this, by constructing a modern petroleum tefinery, on equitable terms, in Trincomalee.

China’s belt and road initiative in Myanmar is primarily concentrated on developing the Bay of Bengal port of Kyaukpyu ,and connecting the port to neighbouring Yunnan province by oil and gas pipelines, and road and rail networks. But Myanmar is wary of over-dependence on China because of, amongst other reasons, environmentally damaging energy projects and its yearning for access to precious metals and stones. Myanmar may, however, find it difficult to resist the pressure unless India, Japan, South Korea, the US, the EU and neighbouring Asean countries make a coordinated effort to strengthen economic relations with it. A similar approach would be needed regarding China’s approach to construction projects in Nepal and Bangladesh.

China’s ‘all- weather friend’ Pakistan is also facing problems in implementing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Despite high-level meetings, important projects like the Diamer-Bhasha Dam located in Gilgit-Baltistan, in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, are stalled, because of disagreement on the financial terms set by the Chinese.

There are also differences on implementing railway projects based out of Peshawar and Karachi, apart from a series of road projects. Moreover, there is very little transfer of technology and know-how, and minimal local participation in Chinese construction projects. Beijing has, after all, to utilise its vast surplus labour force and construction machinery and materials abroad, as its unprecedented domestic construction projects at home are completed.

Pakistan’s dilemma

More and more questions are being raised in Pakistan about where the resources will come from to repay the over $50-billion debt the that will accrue from CPEC projects, where local participation is minimal. Moreover, Pakistan will soon be unable to credibly claim that it exercises its sovereignty in places like the Gwadar port, which is all set to become a Chinese-run military base, close to the strategic Straits of Hormuz.

Writing in Dawn newspaper, columnist Khurram Hussein perceptively observes: “In reality, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor is about allowing Chinese enterprises to assume dominant positions in all dynamic sectors of Pakistan’s economy, as well as a ‘strategic’ direction that is often hinted at, but never fleshed out.”

The writer is a former High Commissioner to Pakistan


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December 26, 2017

Ten Basic Facts about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Ten Basic Facts about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

HuffPost and Times of Israel

By David Harris, AJC CEO

December 25, 2017

In all the discussion about this decades-long conflict and the quest for a solution, some basic facts are too often missing, neglected, downplayed, or skewed.

Not only does this do a disservice to history, but it also contributes to prolonging the conflict by perpetuating false assumptions and mistaken notions.

Consider:

Fact #1: There could have been a two-state solution as early as 1947. That’s precisely what the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) proposed, recognizing the presence of two peoples – and two nationalisms – in a territory governed temporarily by the United Kingdom. And the UN General Assembly decisively endorsed the UNSCOP proposal. The Jewish side pragmatically accepted the plan, but the Arab world categorically rejected it.

Fact #2: When Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948, it extended the hand of friendship to its Arab neighbors, as clearly evidenced by its founding documents and statements. That offer, too, was spurned. Instead, five Arab armies declared war on the fledgling Jewish state, seeking its total destruction. Despite vastly outnumbering the Jews and possessing superior military arsenals, they failed in their quest.

Fact #3: Until 1967, the eastern part of Jerusalem and the entire West Bank were in the hands of Jordan, not Israel. Had the Arab world wished, an independent Palestinian state, with its capital in Jerusalem, could have been established at any time. Not only did this not happen, but there is no record of it ever having been discussed. To the contrary, Jordan annexed the territory, seeking full and permanent control. It proceeded to treat Jerusalem as a backwater, while denying Jews any access to Jewish holy sites in the Old City and destroying the synagogues there. Meanwhile, Gaza was under Egyptian military rule. Again, there was no talk of sovereignty for the Palestinians there, either.

Fact #4: In May 1967, the Egyptian and Syrian governments repeatedly threatened to annihilate Israel, as these countries demanded that UN peacekeeping forces be withdrawn from the region. Moreover, Israeli shipping lanes to its southern port of Eilat were blocked, and Arab troops were deployed to front-line positions. The Six-Day War was the outcome, a war that Israel won. Coming into possession of the Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, Sinai Peninsula, West Bank, and eastern Jerusalem, Israel extended feelers to its Arab neighbors, via third parties, seeking a “land for peace” formula. The Arab response came back on September 1, 1967, from Khartoum, Sudan, where the Arab League nations were meeting. The message was unmistakable: “No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel.” Yet another opportunity to end the conflict had come and gone.

Fact #5: In November 1977, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat broke with the Arab rejectionist consensus. He traveled to the Israeli capital of Jerusalem to meet with Israeli leaders and address Israel’s parliament and speak of peace. Two years later, underscoring the lengths to which Israel was prepared to go to end the conflict, a deal was reached, in which Israel – led, notably, by a right-wing government– yielded the vast Sinai Peninsula, with its strategic depth, oil deposits, settlements, and air bases, in exchange for the promise of a new era in relations with the Arab world’s leading country. In 1981, Sadat was slain by the Muslim Brotherhood for his alleged perfidy, but his legacy of peace with Israel, thankfully, has endured.

Fact #6: In September 1993, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) reached an agreement, known as the Oslo Accords, offering hope for peace on that front as well, but eight months later, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat confirmed the suspicions of many that he was not honest, when he was caught on tape in a Johannesburg mosque asserting that this agreement was nothing more than a temporary truce until final victory.

Fact #7: In 1994, Jordan’s King Hussein, following in the footsteps of Egyptian President Sadat, reached an agreement with Israel, again demonstrating Israel’s readiness for peace – and willingness to make territorial sacrifices when sincere Arab leaders come forward.

Fact #8: In 2000-1, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, leading a left-of-center government and supported by the Clinton administration, offered a groundbreaking two-state arrangement to Arafat, including a bold compromise on Jerusalem. Not only did the Palestinian leader reject the offer, but he shockingly told Clinton that Jews had never had any historical connection to Jerusalem, gave no counter-offer, and triggered a new wave of Palestinian violence that led to more than 1,000 Israeli fatalities (proportionately equivalent to 40,000 Americans).

Fact #9: In 2008, three years after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon unilaterally withdrew all Israeli soldiers and settlers from Gaza, only to see Hamas seize control and destroy another chance for coexistence, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert went even further than Barak in extending an olive branch to the Palestinian Authority. He offered a still more generous two-state proposal, but got no formal response from Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat’s successor. A Palestinian negotiator subsequently acknowledged in the media that the Israeli plan would have given his side the equivalent of 100 percent of the disputed lands under discussion.

Fact #10: At the request of the Obama administration, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to a ten-month freeze on settlement-building in 2010, as a good-faith gesture to lure the Palestinians back to the table. Regrettably, it failed. The Palestinians didn’t show up. Instead, they have continued to this day their strategy of incitement; attempts to bypass Israel – and face-to-face talks – by going to international organizations instead; denial of the age-old Jewish link to Jerusalem and, by extension, the region; and lifetime financial support for captured terrorists and the families of suicide bombers.

Isn’t it high time to draw some obvious conclusions from these facts, recognize the many lost opportunities to reach a settlement because of a consistent “no” from one side, and call on the Palestinians to start saying “yes” for a change?