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Amid ongoing dispute between Archrivals, Pakistan says India is Lying on Surgical Strikes

There have been several calls for India, South Asia’s largest country, to explore the possibility of forging a regional forum that could exclude Pakistan

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FILE - Indian army soldiers keep guard on top of a shop along a highway on the outskirts of Srinagar, Sept. 29, 2016. VOA
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The latest dispute between archrivals India and Pakistan centres on whether the Indian army took out several suspected terror camps just across the volatile border in Kashmir. While India claims its special forces carried out preemptive “surgical strikes” last week, Islamabad is adamant that they did not cross the line of control into Pakistan.

The truth may be hard to ascertain in the remote, Himalayan region where the two armies have long faced off and where bouts of heavy cross-border firing is not unusual.

An Indian Border Security Force soldier patrols near the India-Pakistan international border area at Gakhrial boder post in Akhnoor sector, about 48 kilometers from Jammu, India, Oct. 1, 2016. VOA
An Indian Border Security Force soldier patrols near the India-Pakistan international border area at Gakhrial boder post in Akhnoor sector, about 48 kilometers from Jammu, India, Oct. 1, 2016. VOA

What is certain is that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has signaled a more assertive posture in dealing with Pakistan following an attack on an Indian army post in Kashmir that killed 20 soldiers on September 18. New Delhi blamed the attack on Pakistan-based militants.

Tougher policy

Officials say in the coming days and weeks, India will explore more diplomatic and economic measures to put pressure on its neighbour and rival, who it has long accused of supporting cross-border attacks by Islamic militant groups.

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Analysts warn the tougher line carries the risk of an escalation of hostilities as it takes the South Asian rivals into “uncharted waters.”

The head of the strategic studies program at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, Harsh Pant, said the fundamental shift in India’s approach follows the failure of past policies after multiple terror attacks.

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“This time there was a real focus on making sure that Pakistan pays, not simply in terms of rhetoric, but real costs,” he said. “This is one of the few times when a more comprehensive strategy was adopted.”

Analysts say the army’s “surgical strikes” were a signal that India can retaliate. That is a reversal from its restraint in the past when fear of hostilities turning nuclear held India back. “The issue was India was losing its credibility in its conventional deterrent,” according to Pant.

Pakistan denies the Indian allegations of supporting militant groups mounting attacks in India and says the real problem is alleged human rights violations by Indian security forces in Indian Kashmir that have triggered unrest in the region.

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But blaming Pakistan-based groups for fomenting unrest, India has said it will isolate Pakistan diplomatically.

Summit canceled

The first casualty has been a South Asian summit that was canceled by Islamabad after five out of eight nations in the group, led by India, pulled out citing concerns about cross-border terror.

There have been several calls for India, South Asia’s largest country, to explore the possibility of forging a regional forum that could exclude Pakistan.

However, security analyst Bharat Karnad at New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research underlines the risk of such a strategy.

“You are in essence undermining the idea of reconciliation in the long term,” he cautioned. Pointing out that distancing Pakistan from South Asia is “physically, culturally” not possible, he said, “So you are going to create a real problem in trying to attempt something that is not practical.”

Economic measures considered

India is also looking at economic measures aimed at Pakistan. The prime minister is due to review the Most Favored Nation status that New Delhi granted Pakistan in 1996. That is unlikely to hurt Islamabad as direct trade between the two countries is small and most of the trade is in India’s favor.

The bigger pressure point is a 1960 Indus Water treaty that awarded most of the waters from three Himalayan rivers to Pakistan. India says it will explore all options including building hydroelectric dams along these rivers so that it can utilize its share, something that could potentially reduce the flow into Pakistan.

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That may not happen anytime soon as it would take years to build dams. But it has raised alarm in Islamabad, which says scrapping the treaty would be an act of war.

While India says it has no intention of ending the treaty, which has survived two wars and decades of bitter relations, analysts say the message New Delhi wants to send out is that it might now be willing to use tools never contemplated in the past.

The closer strategic ties that Prime Minister Modi has cultivated with the United States since taking office two years ago have also given India the confidence to contemplate tougher measures, according to analysts.

“He [Modi] recognized the fact that having good relations with America allows India greater strategic space to pursue certain policies vis-a-vis Pakistan,” says Pant.

Tensions have spiraled along the Kashmir border in recent days. Indian officials reported another attack on an Indian army camp Sunday night by six militants in north Kashmir. One border guard died and another was wounded. India has evacuated hundreds of border villages on its side and cross-border firing continues.

But in a signal that both sides want to reduce tensions, the National Security Advisers of the two countries spoke to each other Monday for the first time since tensions spiked in the last two weeks. (VOA)

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Unless There Is A Strategic Plan, Make In India Will Not Work

A strategic plan needs to be in execution to make "Make in India" successful

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Narendra Modi
FILE IMAGE- Mr. Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi set out an ambitious agenda when he announced his administration’s Make in India programme in September 2014. The centerpiece of that programme is the National Manufacturing Policy, the purpose of which is to make India a global manufacturing hub. Its intent is to increase manufacturing’s share of the country’s GDP from 16 per cent to 25 per cent by 2022 and to create 100 million additional jobs by that year.

The policy sets out 11 areas of concentration, including focus sectors, easing of regulatory environments and acquisition of technology and development. It identifies 25 specific focus sectors, including automobiles, defence equipment and medical technology.

The logo for "Make in India".
Make in India.

As Prime Minister Modi reported during the “Make in India week” in February 2016, progress had been made on the manufacturing agenda. Growth in manufacturing’s share of the GDP and employment since the introduction of the programme, however, has been quite sluggish.

That is why, in 2017, Parliament’s Standing Committee on Commerce issued a report questioning the impact and implementation of the Make in India initiative. The government’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion responded by citing a number of measures that had been taken. According to The Hindu newspaper, the committee stated that many of the measures were more than two years old and urged “the department to take effective steps to implement initiatives such as Make in India in a ‘more robust manner’…”

More recently, in mid-March, during a visit to India, American economist and Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman called attention to the need for India to hit manufacturing with a much bigger stick. After lauding India for its significant economic growth and becoming a better place to do business, Krugman observed: “India’s lack in the manufacturing sector could work against it, as it doesn’t have the jobs essential to sustain the projected growth in demography. You have to find jobs for people.”

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As a knowledgeable Indian-American business person who participated in the India-U.S. CEO Roundtable convened during President Barack Obama’s Republic Day visit in 2015, I concur completely with the need to intensify India’s manufacturing efforts. The right way to do that, in my opinion, is to create a manufacturing strategic plan for the nation and its states.

The Make in India’s National Manufacturing Policy outlines a broad range of initiatives covering a number of diffuse and diverse areas. A policy is not a plan. It is a prescription that must be targeted to achieve the desired end goals — in this instance, manufacturing being 25 per cent of the GDP and 100 million new jobs by 2022.

Prime Minister and logo of 'Make in India'
Narendra Modi along with ‘Make in India’ logo.

A well-constructed strategic plan provides the means for that targeting. It translates policy into action with a laser-beam focus. It delivers the keys to the kingdom. It identifies:

* Key Result Areas: The few areas (3-7) in which strategic action programmes must be developed and implemented effectively and efficiently.

* Key Drivers: The critical factors or sources of competitive advantage that can be leveraged for success.

* Key Partners: The top three allies who can contribute the most to achieving the plan’s goals.

The Make in India Manufacturing Strategic Plan should be crafted by an independent commission comprised of a representative cross-section of business, academic, government and other leaders with appropriate experience and expertise. The commission can draw upon the National Manufacturing Policy and multiple other studies and position papers as inputs for the plan.

My quick review of a variety of source material suggests the following as potential items for inclusion in that plan that might have great effect for simultaneously driving GDP growth and job creation:

* Key Result Area: Infrastructure Development. India’s infrastructure problems appear consistently as the most important factor that is retarding its growth potential.

* Key Driver: Automobile Manufacturing. The National Manufacturing Policy cites automobiles as an area in which India already has a competitive advantage that can be built upon.

* Key Partner: The United States. These “indispensable partners” have just begun to scratch the surface of trade arrangements and exchanges that can be mutually beneficial.

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The Make in India programme is at a pivot point. The McKinsey Global Institute in an August 2016 report titled “India’s Ascent: Five Opportunities for Growth and Transformation”, observed: “India’s appeal to potential investors will be more than just its low-cost labour: manufacturers there are building competitive businesses to tap into the large and growing local market. Further reforms and public infrastructure investments could make it easier for all types of manufacturing.”

India continues its ascent, but not as quickly as intended. A Make in India Manufacturing Strategic Plan will kick on the after-burners and accelerate that ascent. Putting the right plan in place and implementing it properly should make the sky the limit for the Indian economy and the Indian people.  IANS

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