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BY MAJ GEN (RETD) S.B. ASTHANA
National Security has a wide span and needs to cover much wider period for any meaningful analysis, but to be realistic about current security dynamics of the country, speculating the immediate trends under the existing realities may be useful, especially in a high voltage political scenario in the country. While the year 2019 has seen a lot of activities with regard to national security from Balakot strike, abrogation of Article 370, administrative reorganisation of erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two Union territories (UTs) and appointment of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), extrapolating the trends can help in anticipating some strategic and security challenges which might need the attention of decision makers beyond politics.
China Factor: The US-China trade war, which touched a new height in 2019, is showing some indicators of respite with the announcement of finalising part one of the agreements by January 15, 2020. Leaving optics aside, the strategic competition (including economic competition) is expected to continue in 2020, because it has become an essential part of US strategy against China, having recognised it as a competitor and vice versa. China, despite internal pressures like protests in Hong Kong and some jolts in economic and infrastructure ventures, has been maintaining a brave front. It has been able to gravitate Russia and Iran towards it and is in the process of colonising Pakistan.
This leaves India in a state of doing strategic balancing to get the best out of such strategic scenario, as it continues to have an unsettled border with China. The positivity brought in during reset of China-India relations during ‘Informal Summit’, at Wuhan in 2018, nosedived with China dragging India to the UN Security Council on internal reorganisation of J&K into two UTs. The Indian claim on Pakistan Occupied Kashmir further dampened the ï¿½Wuhan spirit’ which could not be revived in Malappuram in 2019, as China again made a second effort to go back to UNSC, which got scuttled. In this context I do not visualise that the mutual mistrust between India and China will improve in 2020, unless China faces a major setback in economy and finds it useful to lure India away from US strategic partnership.
In the light of the fact that there has been no major breakthrough in the 22nd round of China-India border talks, I do not expect any worthwhile development on delineation, delimitation for demarcation of LAC, which otherwise is necessary to prevent a repeat of Doklam-like incidents. This is doable, if there is political will, but it is not a priority with China as yet. We can expect a relative quiet period on Chinese borders, with some positive steps for better border management, so long the US-China competition continues, and Chinese remain under pressure of economic slowdown. India, in conjunction with other navies, is unlikely to face any confrontation in the Indian Ocean, except few occasional visits of Chinese submarines to their potential bases/surveillance missions and some more build-up on bases acquired by them through ‘Debt Trap Diplomacy’.
In the South China Sea, India will stand for freedom of navigation and flights, rule-based order, use of global commons in international waters, but any showdown with China is unlikely because Quad, despite its upgradation to Foreign Ministers level, is still not a military alliance to threaten China. South China Sea and Taiwan Strait will continue to witness military posturing just short of a confrontation, with a heated Cold War scenario. Any big bang decision from US or Quad is unlikely, because it is election year in US.
Pakistan Factor: With Chinese pushing BRI/CPEC through, the strategic relevance of Pakistan for China has further increased. A major side effect of abrogation of Article 370 and internal reorganisation of J&K into two UTs, has been the strengthening of the Sino-Pak nexus. China was relatively quiet after the Balakot strike, but openly backed Pakistan after abrogation of Article 370. China will like to ignore state sponsored terror by Pakistan, as it indirectly contains India’s growth to reduce Indian impact in South Asia. The terror industry and proxy war by Pakistan will continue in 2020, notwithstanding their economic difficulties, which have been in the news in 2019.
Whenever they are on the verge of sinking, some country will bail them out to foster its own interest through them, because of their strategic location/terror potential. As the security situation unfolds in Afghanistan-Pakistan Region, I will not be surprised if Taliban, which was decimated by multi-national forces once, (but nurtured by Pakistan) may be in the driver’s seat in the power struggle in Afghanistan, much against Indian interest and US may choose to end their pursuit against them, acknowledging Pakistan as one of the main brokers.
It may be interesting to note that Pakistan’s terror industry is mainly sustained by parallel economy involving drug trade, extortion and assistance from ISI, with material and operational support from Pakistan Army. The efforts of FATF and IMF may show some check on the formal economy, but not on the terror economy, as the linkage between the two is not as tight as it is made out to be. Pakistan is unlikely to get blacklisted by FATF even in 2020, because it will be able to find three countries to oppose such a move, which is adequate to avoid blacklisting. However, it will continue to be in the grey list. Pakistan seems to have done well for themselves in initiating false propaganda against India, which has mitigated their criticism amongst domestic as well as global audience. UN declared terrorists will continue to operate and plan terror operations against India in 2020, as in the past, with greater effort to destabilise Kashmir to undo Indian effort for inclusive growth of J&K.
Sino-Pak nexus: The progress on CPEC is likely to continue despite Indian opposition and some domestic opposition inside Pakistan, although, BRI will continue to face many roadblocks globally. CPEC will make Pakistan a colony of China, which is already into a client-patron relationship, where strategic choices of Pakistan are hostage to China. This brings out a long-term threat to India in terms of a ‘two-front war’ which India has to be prepared for. India’s intention to take back Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) will need shaping of the international environment, affected population and seeing through at least one peaceful summer in Kashmir after reorganisation, as a precursor to any such action plan.
Other neighbours: India does not have any direct threat from other neighbouring countries, but has to remain cautious of developments there to minimize the influence of potential adversaries. Many scribes tend to overplay it by relating it to China most of the time, but being sovereign countries, these nations act as per their own national interests. India will have to continue a ‘neighbours first’ policy to prevent them slipping away into Chinese orbit. In 2020, we can expect closer ties with the Maldives and Bhutan who will continue to get assistance from India. The border issue with Nepal like Kalapani, can be resolved, as it was done in case of enclaves with Bangladesh.
Sri Lanka may have its own compulsions for some policies not very favourable to India; hence diplomatic efforts will be required to let it be neutral despite mounting financial pressure of China. Smart diplomacy will be required to deal with sensitive issues of illegal immigration with Bangladesh, as it is in India’s interest to support Sheikh Hasina and collectively find solutions to problems (including Rohingyas and water dispute) affecting both countries. Similarly in case of Myanmar, the issue of Rohingyas and better connectivity will have to be worked out with proactive diplomacy, in the light of certain internal reforms picking up heat due to undesirable controversies.
Internal Security Challenges
Kashmir: Post abrogation of Article 370 and 35a, the clampdown on mobile and internet facilities will have to be relaxed incrementally from more peaceful districts to potential hot spots. Kashmir has remained relatively peaceful after August 5, but the real test will be peaceful summers in 2020, when Pakistan will redouble its efforts to ignite violence in the Kashmir Valley, which needs to be prevented.
Prolonged restrictions will be counterproductive in terms of alienating the population; hence some calculated risks will have to be taken, even if it amounts to removing and re-clamping restrictions in some vulnerable spots, where remnants of terrorists/separatists may influence the situation. Incidentally Jammu, Ladakh and some parts of Kashmir will continue to be peaceful and only a handful of districts, sympathetic to militants may be prone to terror actions. In 2020 it is expected that terrorists supported by Pakistan will make a few more attempts to derail inclusive growth and development process, before the new UTs are mentally accepted as a reality and as a new normal to progress forward.
Indian security forces need to comb existing terrorists during winters of 2020 and be ready to deal with a fresh lot in the coming summers. Legally, convictions of separatists must happen, because temporary arrests do not matter to them. Unless visible effects of inclusive growth and better governance appear under the reorganised system, the security forces will have to continue fighting infiltrators, terrorists (foreign as well local) because the terror industry will continue to be a lucrative industry.
North Eastern India: We can hope for a development in the North-East region post some crucial agreements in 2020, with declining insurgency. Except for some parts of Manipur and adjoining areas, the region is showing keenness to grow. With friendly Governments in power in adjoining countries, North-East may not be a major security concern. It may face a temporary law and order problem due to some internal reforms like CAA, NRC in Assam, resulting in aggressive politics but these would be surmountable from the security point of view.
Red Corridor/Naxalites: The problem in these areas relates to poor governance and its intensity will increase/decrease depending upon the quality of governance provided. There have been changes in Government in some affected states. Depending upon the governance provided by them and lessons learnt by security forces operating there, the magnitude of the problem can be expected to vary in either direction in 2020. The police forces dealing with it need to have modern equipment, training including leadership training at the grass-roots level.
With China’s discord over internal reorganisation of hte erstwhile state of J&K into UTs, need to keep CPEC going and it’s need to increase domestic support by generating spirit of nationalism amidst growing protests, slowing down of economy, the urge to do something different cannot be ruled out. The clouds of ‘Two Front War’ might hang over India, although it may not happen in 2020. The only way to avoid a ‘Two Front War’ for India is to convince the potential adversaries that India is capable of fighting it. This convincing cannot be by announcements or statements, but by building/proving capability to do so. There seems to be some effort in capacity building, but with limited financial size, its magnitude may not deter potential adversaries, more so when our neighbour in the north has hiked up its pace of modernisation appreciably. India needs to realize that defence capabilities take decades of consistent effort, more-so if it does not have strong manufacturing base.
‘Make in India’ and self-reliance are essential, but time consuming; hence it must continue simultaneously with new procurements with transfer of technology. Unless Pakistan is deterred, the proxy war will continue; hence India needs to improve capability to exercise its ‘Proactive’ intent. If capability exists, then intentions can change overnight, which makes the adversary jittery. (IANS)
By Siddhi Jain
The author who named the book after her twin sons -- Puhor and Niyor -- is a parent who has seen and heard the tales of ridicule and discrimination suffered by many in India and beyond. She says the book is an artistic illustration for kids that details how different families can live and coexist. Whether it's children with two dads or two moms, children with a single dad or single mom, and even multiracial family units, Borthakur's book teaches love, understanding, and compassion towards unconventional families.
Beyond race, gender, color, and ethnicity which have formed the bases for discrimination since the beginning of time, this book aims to bring to light a largely ignored issue. For so long, single parents have been treated like a taboo without any attempt to understand their situations; no one really cares how or why one's marriage ended but just wants to treat single parents as villains simply for choosing happiness and loving their children.
Homosexual parents, a relatively new family system, is another form that has suffered hate and discrimination for many years. Pritisha emphasizes the need to understand that diversity in people and family is what makes the world beautiful and colourful. 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race, and even differences in background
'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race and even differences in background. | Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash
Written for a global audience, the book is targeted at kids between the ages of five and 10, the reason it is embellished with colourful images of families of different types is to appeal to children's sense of sight and drive home the message at the same time. Borthakur believes children are the best place to start because the ages between five and 10 are the most formative, where little ones pick up habits, beliefs and perceptions.
The Guwahati-born author says, "With this book, I'm not trying to take away the job of parents in forming habits, I simply want to do my part as a parent. It is important that we impart the right values in our kids in a bid to build a better, more inclusive and tolerant global society that is fair to everyone." The author's first attempt at a book was an Assamese poetry 'Anubhav', published in 2010.
Set to be published under the label of Author's Channel, the book is like an adventure; a journey into uncharted territories, untouched subjects and matters long ignored. In her words. "The book takes a critical stand in defense of people in society who have had to undergo severe emotional torture for no cause of theirs. It is a terrible conception to think such people any less of a human just for being different," says publisher Aruna Naidu. By September 30, this title, priced at Rs 299, will be available online and in offline bookstores. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Book, children, Guwahati, Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories, moral, story, kids, discrimination, equality
If you feel that clean and well-groomed hands are just an essential prerequisite for women, you might like to think twice. Men should equally pay attention to their hands because our hand houses 1,500 bacteria living on each square centimeter of its skin. You can easily assume what havoc it can create in our body because in India we have the culture of eating with our hands and spaces beneath nails can become breeding heaven for germs. Moreover, clean and maintained hands boost confidence in their daily life activities. Therefore, it's important to keep your hands clean irrespective of your gender by washing or sanitizing at regular intervals. And, to keep them groomed, you don't have to visit a salon.
Rajesh U Pandya, Managing Director, KAI India, gives easy and completely doable tips to follow at home:
* Refrain from harsh soaps: You should be mindful of the soap you are using to wash your hands. Your soap can have a moisturizing element in it like aloe vera or shea butter. Ensure that you're washing your hands with normal water as hot water can make your hand's skin dry and scaly.
You should be mindful of the soap you are using to wash your hands. | Photo by Aurélia Dubois on Unsplash
* Clip your nails regularly: Make use of your personal nail clipper to cut your nails. After cutting your nails at a comfortable length also file them using a nail filer. Never share your nail care clipper as the germs can get transferred to your loved ones. Also, don't forget to use grime remover to remove hidden germs in corners and beneath nails. Also, you may like to file your nails to have a smooth finish.
* Good quality Nail Clipper: Do not use a rusted or chromium coated nail clipper as it might be harmful to skin and might cause dangerous bacterial infections.
* Stop the habit of nail chewing: Sometimes anxiety or extreme boredom can lead to chewing of nails. This habit only makes your nails uneven and ugly. Sometimes, our unclean nail folds give rise to viral, bacterial or fungal infections, which in turn can make us sick if we chew our nails.
Make use of your personal nail clipper to cut your nails. | Pixabay
* Exfoliate your hands: Similar to the way you exfoliate your face; your hands also need it. It helps to keep the dry skin at bay and keep your hands soft. You can buy a scrub or make one at home using brown sugar and olive oil. After scrubbing, you need to massage your hands with moisturizer.
Similar to the way you exfoliate your face; your hands also need it. It helps to keep the dry skin at bay and keep your hands soft. | Wikipedia
* Don't use your nails as tools: Always keep in mind that your nails are like jewels. Never use them to pry things open such as pop cans, removing keys from the ring, opening letters, or scraping off labels. This results in unnecessary breakage of nails, making your hands look dirty.
Never use your nails to pry things open such as pop cans, removing keys from the ring, opening letters or scraping off labels. | Photo by Sammy Williams on Unsplash
* Be aware of nail or cuticle inflammation or redness: If there are any signs of infection, disinfect the skin as soon as possible with an anti-bacterial or anti-fungal ointment.
(Article originally written by N.Lothungbeni Humtsoe) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Nails, groom, hand, exfoliate, chew, nail clipper, bite, cuticle
Bitcoin has become an essential crypto asset in modern portfolios and investment funds. The confidence generated in this cryptocurrency will depend a lot on the diversification that companies make in their balance sheets in Bitcoin and the increase of institutional investors that allocate a percentage of their funds in this crypto. American fund manager Cathie Wood makes some interesting predictions, both in the rise that the Bitcoin price will experience in the next 5 years, suggesting these institutional investors allocate 5% of their funds; this will help leverage the Bitcoin market.
Bitcoin will grow by a tenfold
Bitcoin is projected to grow by 10 times its current value in five years, i.e., it could reach $500,000. Of course, this will require companies to invest in cryptocurrencies. This makes it necessary to increase the weight of Bitcoin on balance sheets through investments. One of the investment gurus who supports this prediction is Catherine Wood. Contrarily, Ray Dalio, despite being clear that relying on cash is not a good strategy, views Bitcoin with suspicion, although he calls for its investment. This behavior is due to the actions of governments against the cryptocurrency market.
If something is undoubted is the vertiginous increase that cryptocurrencies have had in general, they have risen more than 60% so far this year. So, even when some governments are trying to regulate cryptocurrencies, they will fail. This attempt to regulate will end up triggering even more cryptos, especially Bitcoin, which is the oldest and most solid of that market.
Bitcoin, is the oldest and most solid of the market. | Photo by Executium on Unsplash
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The current Bitcoin price means is time to buy:
The current price of bitcoin invites you to buy, and perhaps it would be foolhardy not to. In either case, bitcoin will always represent money. Maybe some external factors generate some misgivings, but if you refuse to invest in cryptocurrencies, you are basically denying the near future, it would be as if you didn't have a cell phone or internet.
In India, more and more people are becoming convinced of the benefits of holding some Bitcoin. This can be clearly seen in the rapid increase in the number of new accounts at crypto exchanges such as WazirX and CoinDCX.
ALSO READ: How can you trade in Bitcoin in India?
Bitcoin, despite its fluctuations, represents an excellent financial strategy. The support users give is significant. The same cannot be said of the FIAT currencies, which have lost value and support, showing how fragile they are, being subjected to a constant devaluation. As long as confidence in cryptos grows, the foundations will continue to be laid to maintain their rise and to be able to continue making transactions. We know this by previous experience, as has happened with Ether, thanks mainly to the growing activity of Defi and NFT, i.e. decentralized finance and non-fungible tokens.
Remember that when you invest in Bitcoin, you can do it by buying or trading. When you want to make these transactions do it in a secure Exchange, study your finances to invest, manage the risk, and learn to manage your portfolio efficiently.