Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) became history after August 6, when the Bill was passed by more than two-thirds majority in both houses of Parliament, through the laid down democratic process in consultation with Sadr-e-Riyasat vested in the Governor of the erstwhile state. The Bill reorganizes the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two separate Union Territories (UTs), J&K being one (to get statehood when there is peace) and Ladakh being another UT. The sight of only the Tricolour on the Secretariat building in Srinagar symbolises complete integration as ‘One Nation, One Constitution and One Flag’, which represents national will and resolve. With no change International border/LAC/LoC/AGPL, this administrative reorganisation is an internal matter of India, which was essential for inclusive growth of the erstwhile state.
This reform was long overdue, as it was seen that Articles 370 and 35A were hurting India and common people of J&K since inclusion. These provisions were being misused by few local politicians, separatists, elite businessmen, terrorists and their supporters, at the cost of brewing inequality, depriving legal benefits, voting rights, welfare related rights to common people of Kashmir including safai karmacharis, and daughters marrying outside and their children. It helped the agenda of Pakistan and terrorists, allowed forcibly pushing out some natives like Kashmiri Pundits with blatant abuse of power and left India helpless in mitigating their grievances.
No investments were possible to create jobs, hence terror industry bloomed. Needless to say that the people enjoying such abuse of power will continue to cry foul, along with some more trying to gain political mileage out of it but the fact is that this decision was backed by thumping mandate of the country through laid down democratic process.
What are Indian adversaries trying?
Pakistan’s frustration is that declaration of J&K as UT will expose its terrorists fuelling proxy war in Kashmir, out of the umbrella of local political patronage. The separatists will be exposed to central security forces and laws, and its terror industry/infrastructure built in Kashmir over decades will start crumbling. Pakistan Army, ISI and political class have enjoyed power domestically, on their narrative of efforts of Kashmir’s liberation so far; hence the Indian action has disturbed their plans. China’s disgruntlement stems from the fact that Ladakh becoming a UT weakens their false, incremental claims in that region, besides weakening Pakistan’s proxy to keep Indians engaged on their behalf.
Pakistan has been waging hybrid war with a large number of terrorists already infiltrated, along with separatists instigating violence, coupled with conventional fire at LoC in the last few decades, resulting in more than 42,000 deaths. Its efforts to re-ignite hybrid war post abrogation of Article 370 have not met much success because of heavy deployment and alertness of Indian security forces and restrictions on mobile and internet.
Pakistan’s irrational actions like lowering of diplomatic relations with India, scrapping trade ties, stopping rail communication and blocking air routes have been to its disadvantage. Pakistan and China went through diplomatic offensive by approaching UNSC for informal meeting, which also yielded no results as the world community did not find it a worthwhile to even issue any joint statement. On the sidelines of the G7 Summit, Prime Minister Modi, while talking to President Trump, ruled out any mediation efforts by any other country, which Pakistan was vehemently trying. This has put to rest all diplomatic efforts of Pakistan for internationalisation or mediation of Kashmir Issue. Enhanced military deployment including SSG and artillery along LoC is part of escalating hybrid war.
Large-scale attempts of infiltration of terrorists including under water operators, is to create fear psychosis amongst people of Kashmir, especially their erstwhile sympathisers not to change sides and be helpful in commencing terror actions in Kashmir as and when the restrictions on communication means are lifted by India. China seems to be signalling moral and material support to Pakistan through MoUs for defence capacity building and cooperation during visit of Deputy Chairman of its Central Military Commission, which seems to be more of optics as China already accounts for more than 70 per cent of import of military hardware to Pakistan. After UNSC embarrassment, China has been relatively quiet on propaganda or rhetoric.
Information Warfare by Pakistan
Pakistan has enhanced the dimension of warfare by graduating to all out ‘Information Warfare’ (IW), which encompasses propaganda, fake news, threatening statements, rhetoric, manipulating social media and invisible cyber warfare. To combat this warfare it is necessary to understand the strategy of Pakistan regarding application of IW. Their first narrative is to give religious colour to propaganda campaign, falsely projecting it as Hindu encroachment on Muslim rights, and restrictions on internet and mobile, (which is lifeline of its terror networking, propaganda campaign and terror strikes) as atrocities on Muslims. The aim being to garner support of Muslims globally including Indian Muslims to stand up for supporting terror in the garb of Jihad to prevent falsely claimed atrocities on Muslims.
Unfortunately for them, except for members of their terror industry and their sympathisers, not very many have bought this narrative. The second narrative is posing fake Indian threat from India (Although India has no intention of any war with Pakistan, except that it intends respond offensively to any threat posed by Pakistan, including terror attacks), posing helplessness, repeatedly threatening the world of its nuclear status and its irrationality to get into nuclear exchange, blackmailing the world community to intervene and save the situation.
The third narrative is to remind US, China and India of its terror potential, blackmail US for its need to quit Afghanistan in exchange of leverage on Taliban (if any?) and blackmail China for protecting its economic interests and workers in the country and doing the dirty job of containing Indian forces on their behalf. Imran Khan’s acceptance of approximately 40,000 terrorists on his soil and threat to unleash his strategic assets (terrorists) for Pulwama type actions does not deter India, which anticipated such actions in its strategic calculation.
Pakistan’s targets for information warfare are different for each type of narrative. For religious agenda it is targeting people of Kashmir valley, people of Pakistan, terror groups, Muslim diaspora, global community of Muslims (like planned processions in UK), Khalistan terrorists and sympathisers (to exploit another fake narrative of alleging suppression of minorities under Hindu regime). It is also targeting some disgruntled elements in India including political opponents/aspirants trying to fish in troubled water by following a narrative against the national mandate to score some petty political gains. The methodologies adopted for IW ranges from management of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), psychological operations, electronic warfare, misinformation campaigns, information attacks and manipulating public perception through social media.
Mobile, internet and radio transmissions are fast modes of connectivity being used. Structured television programmes are also being made use of with YouTube links having operators stationed globally. Fake videos of atrocities on people picked up from any global incidents are being played up as current situation in Kashmir, which are getting identified to be of different incidents globally on investigations. Pakistan has also influenced some international news agencies, which carried fake news on their behalf, as sensational news for commercial interests.
Combating Information Warfare of Pakistan
Information war by adversary cannot be taken lightly and needs to be combated professionally. One of the best methods of combating it is to flood the global environment with hard facts countering fake news and propaganda. India had anticipated the security challenges arising out of such decision and has done its best to quarantine the potential problem creators and flash spots with tight restrictions. Kashmir valley has been quite peaceful as never before in last so many years, after India strengthened the security force level in the terrorist threat prone areas, and restricted use of mobile and internet there to ensure safety of citizens.
India’s priority is to save lives of innocent people; hence it is carefully lifting restrictions in graduated manner, resulting in delay in risky areas causing some inconvenience to some people there. With Pakistan openly trying everything possible to re-ignite Kashmir valley through its terrorists, Indian administrators and security forces/agencies will have to strike a fine balance between relaxing restrictions or continuing it to save lives, on daily basis, with an option to re-clamp some restrictions, if problem creators manage to pose threat to prevailing peace.
The criticism against restrictions by those who abused power under Article 370, interested groups/political opportunists/activists is natural, but if it can save lives of innocent people then it can be endured, as loss of lives will also invite criticism, which will be the worst case. In IW, the propaganda campaign has to be based on partial truths to succeed; hence Pakistan has cleverly picked up some internal criticism in India, which is routine to any matured democracy like India, and mixed it with fake information of atrocities, backed by fake videos to base its propaganda campaigns. It needs to be understood by all making public utterances in India that any divergence from the mandated decision will be picked up by adversary and twisted to launch fake propaganda; hence there is a need to exercise caution to combat Pakistan’s IW.
Propaganda has to be confronted with truth by organised IW apparatus. All forms of Indian media need to call the bluff of adversary by exposing fake news. Rebuttals to wrong news by paid/motivated authors globally, need to be given rebuttals in the form of facts by all Indian authors. Every Indian using social media is an information worrier of India; hence every fake news he/she comes across must cease circulation or marked fake. Awareness campaign needs to be planned for population, especially people from Kashmir. The recent attempt of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan trying to portray himself as the poster boy for Muslims and Kashmiris must be rebutted with his continued silence over atrocities in Baluchistan and Xinjiang internationally to expose human right record of both adversaries.
The Indian secular fabric is strong not to fall prey to religious fundamentalism, but counter propaganda speeches in various forums may well be the need of the hour to quarantine the thought process of innocents from radicalised sleeper cells. The education system in madrassas in Kashmir will need monitoring to check anti-national agenda of terrorists. Besides IW, India needs to ready for next round of hybrid war, because the terrorists and sleeper cells will be active again, whenever the restrictions are lifted and a temporary dogfight period is likely till the situation is controlled again. These actions need to be backed by inclusive growth plan rolled out simultaneously so that people of Kashmir can visualise their bright future in comparison to the life of people in POK and Gilgit-Baltistan. (IANS)
By Rohit Vaid
Till now, activities associated with laying of power and telecom transmission and distribution lines, roads, highways, railways and construction of facilities such as hospitals, affordable housing, power generation units, water treatment plants, SEZs and certain type of hotels amongst others were given such status.
Besides, these sectors are a part of harmonised master list for infrastructure sub-sectors. However, in April 2021, exhibition-cum-convention centre was included in the list. "Given the focus around electric vehicle, and need for significant investment in charging stations, if the government adds the sector in infrastructure list, the benefits arising out of it will be significant," said Vishal Kotecha, Director, India Ratings and Research. "Infra tag on sectors increases ability to raise funds, access to dedicated funds and lenders, foreign capital, lower interest rates among others."
Given the focus on electric vehicles, the advantages of including the industry in the infrastructure list will be enormous. Free SVG
In recent years, lenders have taken a severe hit on their books consequent to cater to the unique financing requirements of the infra sector. This necessitated regulatory changes and government support from time to time. "The pandemic has hit the retail, hospitality and automobile sectors hard and the need for credit and liquidity support is real and urgent," said Vipula Sharma, Senior Director - Ratings and Head - Infrastructure Ratings, Brickwork Ratings.
"Any likely move to reclassify lending to these sectors as infrastructure lending will enable the banks to lend at concessional rates and extended timeline which in turn would give the sectors time to recover from the three years of repeated extended closures and rebuild their businesses. It would also enable access to funds from a larger set of institutions and funds."
Furthermore, as the economy continues to recover from the prolonged pandemic, the sustainability of the recovery is clearly the key fiscal and monetary policy objective. Consequently, Centre would need to focus on not only enhancing public capital expenditure further in infrastructure but also encouraging the private sector including foreign players to invest in the sector.
The economy is still recovering from the pandemic, and the recovery must be sustained. Unsplash
Lately, the Centre has already taken an initiative to kickstart private sector capital expenditure through the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) programme that has already covered 13 sectors with an aggregate outlay of Rs 1.97 trillion spread over the next few years. "We believe there is a case for considering 'infrastructure sector' status to the healthcare and the EV charging eco-system. The criticality of adequate healthcare infrastructure across the country has increased significantly after the pandemic and the 'infrastructure' tag can be extended to not only hospitals but also diagnostic centres," said Suman Chowdhury, Chief Analytical Officer, Acuité Ratings & Research. "As regards EV, the government has started to provide cash subsidies for EV purchases but the need of the hour is to build the charging infrastructure in an expeditious manner. The 'infrastructure' tag can clearly help attract funds to the EV ecosystem." (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: lending, power, hospitals, rate, capital, government, pandemic, funds, budget, ratings, sector, infrastructure)
A team led by chief scientist Ravi Shankar, is working on two combinations to provide the safest medication to coronavirus patients. "Experts say that a combination of antivirals with different mechanisms can be more effective to counter the viral pandemic. We are working on two combinations - Umifenovir with Molnupiravir (an antiviral) and Umifenovir with Niclosamide (anti-parasitic)," he said.
Also read: Antiviral Remdesivir Receives FDA
Molnupiravur drug has received only Emergency Use Authorisation in India and abroad. Though its usage showed reduced hospitalisation during clinical trials, its biggest drawback are the side-effects, he added.
"Now, we are trying to keep a low dosage of Molnupiravir in its combination with Umifenovir which may weed out the side-effects such as the risk of cartilage and muscle damage. If successful, it will make Umifenovir more effective in Covid-19 treatment," said the chief scientist. The other combination is Umifenovir with Niclosamide.
Niclosamide is known for its efficacy for Covid treatment but the biggest challenge is that its high dosage is required for treatment and that leads to side-effects. A safe and efficacious combination of Umifenovir with Niclosamide is being researched on for the exact dosage in the combination that can give positive results, he added.
CDRI director Prof Tapas Kundu said: "CDRI is working round-the-clock to develop drugs that can help in treating all variants of Covid-19, besides being economical and safe for people. We have achieved a major breakthrough with Umifenovir and are hopeful of developing a new drug to win the pandemic battle."
Molnupiravur drug has received only Emergency Use Authorisation in India.Wikipedia
(Keywords: CDRI director Prof Tapas Kundu, Niclosamide, Covid treatment, Umifenovir, Molnupiravir, safest medication, coronavirus)
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Friday instructed Indian envoys to Canada and the US, Ajay Bisaria and Taranjit Singh Sandhu, "to urgently respond to the situation" where four Indian nationals including an infant have lost their lives on the US-Canada border. The minister said this in a public tweet. Neither of the two missions have responded on the microblogging site till the time of filing of this report.
In a statement Thursday without identifying the victims, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) stated that "on the morning of January 19, 2022, RCMP officers with the Integrated Border Enforcement Team received concerning information from their counterparts in the United States".
RCMP officers received concerning information from their counterparts in the United States.Wikipedia
"Specifically, the information outlined that officers with the US Customs and Border Protection had apprehended a group of individuals who had crossed into the US from Canada, near the town of Emerson, Manitoba. Further, it indicated that one of the adults had items meant for an infant but that no infant was with the group."
"Upon receiving this information at 9.23 a.m., a search was immediately launched on both sides of the border.
RCMP officers were already patrolling the area and the search began at 9.24 a.m. Extensive patrols were conducted and, at approximately 1.30 p.m., the bodies of three individuals were located on the Canadian side of the border, approximately 10km east of Emerson.
RCMP identified the group as: an adult male, an adult female, and an infant.
At this very early stage of the investigation, it appears that they all died due to exposure to the cold weather. Work is underway to identify the victims and an autopsy has been scheduled.
The search for any possible survivors or additional victims continued throughout the evening of Wednesday, January 19, and RCMP officers continue to patrol the area today. To date, no other victims have been located."
Also read: Sikh man attacked in Canada
US authorities said border patrol officials stopped a 15-passenger rental van Wednesday driven by Steve Shand with two undocumented Indian nationals inside, less than a mile south of the border in a rural area between Lancaster, Minnesota, and Pembina, North Dakota. Shand and the Indian nationals were arrested.
Officials also intercepted another group of five Indian nationals nearby who were walking in the direction of where the van was located, according to the court documents.
The RCMP said it will be conducting an investigation and is working in close collaboration with US Customs and Border Protection and the US Department of Homeland Security.
"All of our agencies are committed to a thorough and comprehensive investigation," the statement said. (IANS/PR)
(keywords: Canada, 4 Indians, smuggled, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, Indian envoys, Canada and the US, Ajay Bisaria and Taranjit Singh Sandhu)