Friday December 15, 2017
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International Affairs: Will a new India evade Pakistan’s trap?

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Dr. Richard L. Benkin

Pakistan again delayed its prosecution of 26/11 terrorist Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi. Not two full days after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif reached an understanding on this contentious issue in Ufa, Russia, Pakistan reneged. It was not the first time that Pakistan backed off its commitments to prosecute Lakhvi, who is also a leader of the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

Pakistani foreign policy adviser Sartaj Aziz’s statement that India had to provide “more evidence” for the probe to continue was only the latest Sartaj_Aziz_(cropped)

delaying tactic by the Islamic Republic. Aziz might have claimed that what he said was consistent with the Modi-Sharif meeting, but it was a clear slap at India’s position that it already has given Pakistan all the information in its possession; and further, that what it has provided is compelling evidence that Lakhvi was the 26/11 mastermind.  Considering that Lashkar and Lakhvi are responsible for the murder of thousands of Pakistanis, logic would dictate that Pakistan would want to bring LeT’s reign of terror to an end.  After all, the primary duty of every government is to protect the nation’s people.

Evidently not for Pakistan.  Its official sponsorship of LeT, especially as an unofficial arm of its fight with India over Kashmir, has long been established.  Ashley Tellis, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, noted “It is important to end the farce of treating [terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba] as if they are truly free agents, acting on their own accord”; states like Pakistan give them “protection, succor, and support.”

Most knowledgeable observers long ago concluded that the Pakistani government, and especially its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), were involved in the 26/11 attacks. Lakhvi’s trial would make Pakistani involvement official and force its government to take real action or face international censure.  So they demur.

However, a particularly important fact this time is that India has a different leader with a well-deserved reputation for being tough and thoroughly committed to ensuring that the days of Indian weakness and meekness are behind for its 1.25 billion people.  Modi foreshadowed this in a campaign speech he gave in the far northeastern state of Assam.  The people of Assam were concerned that the large influx of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh was destroying the state’s physical and cultural environments.  He told them: “The people of Assam are troubled because of Bangladesh,” pm-modi_660_010315110259 and noting that he was from Gujarat which borders Pakistan he continued, “Pakistan is worried because of  me.”

Pakistan is worried about Modi, however, they might be testing him with this latest salvo. During his first 15 months in office, Modi’s foreign policy has focused on building bridges with other countries, including neighbors Pakistan and Bangladesh, beginning with his unprecedented invitation for the leaders of both  countries to attend his swearing in ceremonies. Given their contentious history, Modi’s attempt to re-set  relationships based on a bold, assertive, and mutually beneficial Indian future takes a great deal of agility. Traditional allies and adversaries need to see an open hand of friendship at the same time knowing that it can turn into a clenched fist. Modi has been doing that, all the time having to demonstrate that he is neither the bully some foreigners and domestic opponents believe him to be, nor the foreign policy weakling his predecessors often proved to be.

In 2010, I was in South Asia and observed the ongoing farce that culminated with the Indian Congress government’s capitulation.  India and Pakistan were supposed to hold talks aimed at resolving the 26/11 issue.  Shortly before the talks were to be held, however, Pakistan said it would not participate. In a rambling diatribe, then-Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Pakistan was not behind attacks on its neighbor; India was. India, he said, was collaborating with the Taliban to de-stabilize. It is difficult to believe that Qureshi expected anyone except delusional partisans to believe what he said.

This was really a Pakistani shot across India’s bow; a strategic move intended to make themselves appear reasonable (‘we are in favor of talks’) without actually doing anything (such as resolving this issue or ending its support for terrorist attacks on India).

The Indian Congress government tried again and a “reasonable” Pakistan agreed; and true to form, only a few days before the talks, it threatened to

Shah Mahmood Qureshi
Shah Mahmood Qureshi

break them off if they included discussion of the 26/11 allegations.  Congress gave in and agreed to the meaningless talks that are not even a footnote in the subcontinent’s history.  Worse, it reiterated that India—perhaps until now—would not press the issue of Pakistani connivance in the third deadliest attack in India’s history and one that killed more people than all attacks in the previous year combined.

How Prime Minister Modi responds will tell us a lot about his administration going forward.  He cannot afford to risk the relationships he has built thus far, which would be an outcome favorable to Islamabad; nor can he afford to let the matter drop.  Do not expect him to wage war over it, though proof of Pakistani involvement would constitute an act of war on its part. But do not expect him to capitulate as did his predecessors. He already tried the UN Security Council on a related matter; and although China blocked him, Modi found a great deal of international consensus in his favor, even from nations that generally find themselves on opposite sides of an issue including the US and Russia.

A more fruitful avenue would be an aggressive campaign to Pakistan’s most important sponsor:  the United States.  Modi has built up a tremendous amount of goodwill on Capitol Hill where it would not be difficult to convince key lawmakers in both the Senate and House to hold public hearings on the matter.

That public airing of the evidence should tilt in India’s favor and could end with a strong statement by the Congress—something Pakistan could not ignore without serious consequences to it relationship (and financial pipeline) with the US.  This is also a Congress that is bound and determined to oppose terrorism and the states that sponsor it. Modi has made serious inroads on US policy in South Asia. The hearings would further damage Pakistan’s standing in the US.  He might also appeal to President Barack Obama, who fashions himself as a peacemaker and might be induced to broker India-Pakistan talks on 26/11.

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Rise of PM Modi and roar of subversive forces

To counter PM Modi opposition leaders are desperately getting aligned with anti-India forces

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Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Wikimedia commons)

– By Salil Gewali

If your son makes friendship with the difficult and longtime enemies of your own family/clan then how do you describe him and how do you feel about your future? Will it not be likely to open the door to countless tragedies? But in India, such thing is now being openly celebrated. For past couple of years or more the political leaders of certain parties have been taking the wrong step forward in having closed-door meetings with the leaders of Pakistan/China. What transpires among themselves is obviously against the present government and the nation’s fundamental ethos. Those leaders have often been heard to be sympathetic towards the terrorists or those who “roar against the nation” or against its patriotic values. Yes, those leaders jump forward to defend them who wreak havoc with the “peaceful citizens”.   Some leaders are apologetic that certain NGOs/media/religious bodies should not be harassed in the name of fighting the terrorists and ISIS. This is how country’s leaders defend the dangerous postures of dangerous outfits. Will this trend not invite greater troubles to the nation in future?

One wonders how the apex judiciary of the country just allow the political parties to pour out their pent-up anger before the leaders of neighbouring countries who are always aggressively in the combative mood. Why is the Supreme Court silent on such blatant subversive activities?

Very recently, one senior leader of the national party even scoffed at Prime Minister Modi by calling him a depraved being “Neech”. What are the criteria for one being morally low? Has PM Modi fallen short any standards of the integrity since he works sincerely hard and formulates innovative plans and schemes for the greater welfare of the nation? Well, has he not been constitutionally elected by the people of this country? Why the media is less aggressive and more defensive for those “transgressors” who wield daggers behind the cloak.

Whatsoever be the political dispensation at the center, such open rebellion against the government will not augur well for the nation and its 1.25 billion citizens.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter Handle @SGewali

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Beatles, Apple, Facebook knew India more than Indians

Famous non-Indian celebrities know more about India and its past

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The Beatles once visited India to know more bout its past and culture.
The Beatles once visited India to know more bout its past and culture. Wikipedia

-By Salil Gewali

Facebook’s Chairman Mark Zuckerberg had dropped a bombshell on the “secularists” in India during PM Modi’s visit to his campus in California. It’s all about the Facebook connection with India. Initially, it was never a bed of roses for what is now a household name “FACEBOOK” across the world. This world-famous ‘social networking service company’ had its own share of bad times. Revealing for the first time in the meeting at the Facebook office upbeat Zuckerberg told PM Narendra Modi that Steve Jobs, the founder Chairman of Apple, had advised him to visit a certain temple in India for blessings. The revelation may have caused heartburn to many. More so in India where so-called secular and snooty folks have long acquired a proclivity to look down upon their own culture, religion, and values while being appreciative of any bizarre customs and styles of the West. Yes, heeding the advice of his mentor Steve Jobs the depressed Mark had visited the temple and toured around India for nearly a month.

Facebook's CEO tells about India.
Facebook’s CEO tells about India. wikipedia

Well, the American techno-wizard Steve Jobs had himself spent over six months in India in 1974. He was here in quest of the higher meaning of life and spiritual solace. As understood, from early age Steve was quite haunted by a good deal of unanswered questions. Of course, his encounter with a book “Be Here Now” by Richard Alpert, a Harvard Professor, had opened up a gateway to the spiritualism of the East. This book had also introduced him to a mystic Yogi ‘Neem Karoli Baba’. That later inspired Steve to set out the journey for the East. As soon as Steve and his friend Daniel Kottke arrived India they directly went to meet the Guru in Kainchi Dham Ashram in Nainital. But to their disappointment, they found the Baba had already passed away some months earlier. Nevertheless, the urge to dive deeper into the spiritualism did not die away. They shaved their heads and put on Indian clothes and undertook an extensive meditation and yogic practices.

The most significant impact that had made upon Steve’s life was a book “Autobiography of a Yogi”by Paramhansa Yogananda. It is on record that he would read this book too frequently, at least once every year until his death, 2011. This book had given him the practical insight into what exactly this world is about and how a layman can prepare himself to realize the Supreme knowledge. The first-hand account of a Yogi with empirical approaches to know oneself this book by Yogananda is a smash hit manual now among the seekers of the Eastern spiritualism.

Yes, by dint of hard work, intuition and innovation Steve stood out as one of the most successful techno-tycoons of the modern times. As much known, Jobs was hardly possessed by the luxury of riches and materialistic vanity. He just regarded his entrepreneurship as a tool to awaken his dormant potentialities. The chairman of Salesforce.com and famous philanthropist Marc Benioff says with conviction — “If you want to understand Steve, it’s a good idea to dig into ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’.” It is this book which Steve’s family had given to all the guests as a last gift at his memorial service.

Here we can’t afford to ignore the Beatle’s fascination for INDIA as well. The band members that were basking in the opulence of materialistic riches and glory visited India (Rishikesh) in search of inner peace. They met with Sri Maharshi Mahesh Yogi and learnt from him Transcendental meditation (TM) who laid bare methods to feel true bliss within. Sri Maharshi is a big name in the West having a huge following that includes celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, David Lynch, Russell Brand, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Aniston, Modern physicist Dr. John Hagelin, to name a few. The Beatle’s Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr often assist a Hollywood Director/actor David Lynch to organize the Transcendental meditation under ‘David Lynch Foundation’ across USA and the European countries. George Harrison later took refuge in Bhakti Yoga. The founder of ISKCON Srila Prabhupada showed him the pathway to the Supreme Consciousness.

What basically pulls the rational westerners to India is less known to Indians themselves. It’s shamefully paradoxical. From early 19th Century, the philosophical literary treasure troves and Yoga of India found more admirers in the foreign lands than at home. Indeed, the philosophy of the “laws of karma” and the presence of all-power-divinity within every being and everywhere — which any human being can realize irrespective of one’s caste, creed, nationality, and color, has intensely stirred the greatest of the great minds of the West. The ancient texts hold out a whole bunch of keys to unlock oneself and know his/her relationship with the Supreme Being which in fact seems very reasonable to the West. Further, the complex studies of world-view by Modern scientists are gradually arriving at the same conclusion what the ancient sages of India expounded over five thousands year back that ‘creation and creator are ONE’. Interconnection, inter-relation and interdependence among every individual particle/object, living or non-living, in the infinite universe — which is the fundamental tenets of the Eastern philosophy, provided a new light of wisdom to the the modern physicists like Schrödinger, Heisenberg, Julius Oppenheimer, Brain David Josephson, David Bohm, John Stewart Bell et al.

Well, Indian’s contribution to the western academia is immeasurable — though deliberately undermined or less discussed in India itself. It’s very worthwhile to recall a famous proclamation by our western master whom we hold in the highest esteem. TS Eliot, one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, asserts: “Indian philosophers’ subtleties make most of the great European philosophers look like schoolboys”.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter @SGewali.

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Narendra Modi App : Amazing Platform where Prime Minister connects with the citizens

Wanna give ideas to or interact with Prime Minister Narendra Modi? Go and download Narendra Modi app on android and iOs

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Narendra Modi App
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (FILE PHOTO)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has an amazing sense of connecting with masses. Prime Minister knows the nerve of Indian public and at various instances proves himself as a pan Indian leader. Prime Minster Modi is undoubtedly one of the most tech-savvy global leader and a big promoter of e-governance and m-governance since a long time. Within two months of assuming Prime Minister-ship, he had launched the ambitious myGov project. In continuing the tradition of citizen connect, Prime Minister Modi took another step towards connecting with the people at their convenience by launching Narendra Modi app couple of years back.

Narendra Modi app
Prime Minister launching Narendra Modi App

The Narendra Modi app provides updates on the day-to-day activities of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It presents an opportunity to receive messages and emails directly from Shri Narendra Modi. There is also an option to contribute and earn ‘badges’ through to-do tasks in various social initiatives. Through Narendra Modi app, one can tune-in and listen to the various episodes of ‘Mann ki Baat’, read Prime Minister Modi’s blogs, and get to know more about him from his Biography section. Narendra Modi app also provides comprehensive information on initiatives and achievements of the Union Government, which has an ‘infographics’ section for insights.

Such type of initiative by a global leader gives a strong message how technology can be used by governments to bridge gap between leaders and citizens. apart from this app Prime Minister Modi is also very much active on various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. Prime Minister Modi is the one of the most followed global leader on Twitter.

So what are you waiting for. Go and share some ideas of innovation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and contribute in his vision of “Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas”.

– by SHAURYA RITWIK, Shaurya is Sub-Editor at NewsGram and writes on Geo-politcs, Culture, Indology and Business. Twitter Handle – @shauryaritwik