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Monday, October 18, 2010

MY PUBLISHED LETTERS - ASIA TIME ONLINE - 2006

Re India fears US nuclear trap [Dec 20]:

I strongly believe that this deal will pass all the hurdles and also address major concerns of India, because despite the fact that India and the US are saying that this is simply a business deal, it was their security concerns which ensured the success of this deal. In fact, although India direly needs the nuclear deal, the US too needs this deal for its own reasons.

For India, this deal will relieve it from dangerously depending on oil. Second, a prospering India will also need more FDI [foreign direct investment] with technology transfer. Since the US-led countries are

more likely to bring more investments to India, a good relationship with the US is essential for that. In the defense perspective, India must have a strong economy as well as strong defense. Without one, another is useless. With the demise of the USSR and now Russia having a good relationship with China, India is compelled to find alternatives to its defense requirements. Even Russia may maintain cordial relationship with India but its economy is too ruined to spend more for R&;D [research and development] for advanced weaponry. Ironically the Russians have India and China as customers. If ever war erupts between India and China, China will have weapons which will be similar to India's or more advanced than India's, not to mention Russia, being a supplier to both, standing neutral in any clash. Any political novice will agree that in today's terrorized world, no country wants to live without a strong ally, including the mighty Americans. For India, the US has virtually become a mall. India can buy everything from it or nothing at all.

In the US calculus, apart from the business perspective, India is a key force to be reckoned with. Now they have realized that the world is too big for them to handle. They want someone to share the burden or blame. Since major flash points are in Asia and all their possible adversaries (China, Russia, Iran and North Korea) are in Asia, the Americans want a strong ally (not only economically but militarily too) in this continent.

I am sure the US wouldn't press any clause which [would] compel India to forgo the deal. India and the US must be aware of the fact that they will never have a deal which addresses only their [own concerns]. Such a deal is only possible if one defeats the other in a war and orders the defeated one to sign.

Finally, I know many people who are staunchly optimistic and God-believers. But I also know that they all have multiple insurance to protect their family from any uncertainty. India and the US consider each other as insurance.

Shivanantham
Cuddalore
, India
(Dec 21, '06)

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I just [watched] a TV show which had heated debate on whether Mohammad Afzal, convicted for attacking the Indian parliament [in December 2001], should be hanged or given life imprisonment. Although ATol has not published any article about this, I am writing in the hope that some people who have authority in Indian polity are reading this portal, so I too can plead for Afzal.

In fact, I am a strong supporter of capital punishment. The terrorists and criminals are like infectious disease, and if they are not eliminated they will spread the disease to others. But what has changed my heart is the fact (former Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah's argument) that when an Indian flight was hijacked to Afghanistan and the hijackers held the passengers (read Hindus) for ransom, the Indian government didn't hesitate to subvert the law and handed over the terrorist [sic] to save the passengers. The same argument can be applied in this case. Hanging Afzal is not going to end any terrorist attacks, but when one [considers that] his hanging is going to burn Kashmir and may claim many lives, then why can his death sentence not be diluted to life imprisonment? And this is not to mention that high-profile cases like the Bofors bribery case and the Babri Mosque demolition case are still waiting for verdicts. The Babri Mosque case is as diabolical as the parliament attack because the chain [of] events after the demolition claimed thousands of lives of both Hindus and Muslims. Why [did] not the court pull up the investigating agency and say that law must prevail on everybody?

This may be the first time that President Abdul Kalam has regretted accepting that high post. Being a Muslim and elected by the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] is going to be a major factor which will influence his decision. I just want to remind him that Afzal's crime may be dangerous in our perspective, but it is a political crime, and somewhere down the line India may be responsible for the reprisal. After all, India claims that Kashmiris are Indian citizens. Giving in into your child's (Kashmiris') demand is not a shameful one.

Shivanantham
Cuddalore
, India
(Nov 28, '06)

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Forgive me if I am prolonging the Indian democracy debate. But two things compelled me to respond again. First, in my earlier letter [Sep 1], I think I failed to show a clear picture. What I meant to say is that, in the initial over, the batsmen are always afraid of hitting the ball since sometimes that will result in losing the wicket and putting pressure on them. That means Indian politicians too were afraid of taking hard decisions because that would have angered the largely uneducated people and might have resulted in balkanization of India.

Second ... if a person is over the moon, then he must look at the people above him and remind himself that he is still far behind. And when a person is depressed then he must also look at the people below him and console himself that at least he is a few steps ahead [of] others. When I noticed that there was too much criticism about India in this forum, I thought that I must show the better side of India. That doesn't mean that we are content with the present status or we are pleasing (or fooling) ourselves that somehow we are better than Pakistan.

As a voter I know Indian democracy still has not delivered. But as an aspiring politician (I am 34) I also realize that, in a progressing democracy, it is difficult for even an honest and efficient leader like Dr Manmohan Singh to implement a good-intentioned policy.

Shivanantham
Cuddalore
, India (Sep 5, '06)

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This refers to ATol's various comments about India and its democracy. I too noticed that you are nurturing some kind of grudge against India. Here are my views about that.

In fact what you are saying is (comparing India with Western democracy) India is half-empty, but what we Indians are saying (comparing India with the Third World countries) is India is half-full. Both are right in a different perspective. If ATol wants to give marks to India's achievements, ATol must know that in sports all players have to follow the same rules and play in the same circumstances. But for the countries the rules and circumstances are entirely different, hence the result also would be different. It will take lot of words to explain the differences between India and the other countries. Had India implemented [a] one-child norm as ruthlessly as China implemented [it] (I surely prefer that), India too would have seen its population reduced to a large extent, and virtually no people would be living below the poverty line.

In cricket the batsmen always prefer to save the wicket for the initial over, and once they have settled they will hit for the run. So far India has consolidated its wicket (unity) and I am sure now they will make the runs (prosperity).

Shivanantham
Cuddalore
, India (Sep 1, '06)

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Re
Indian jet purchase hangs on nuclear deal [Apr 11]:

Though this article is primarily focused on India's defense spending, I am surprised to note that the author is too skeptical about the deal. Anyone who is closely watching the nuclear deal between India and the US would have noticed a striking similarity in this issue.

In India, initially, it was BJP [the Bharatiya Janata Party] which proposed the deal but later the ruling Congress party pushed it more vigorously. The BJP, as an opposition party, which didn't like to see the Congress party scoring a point, criticized the deal, saying that India is budging under American pressure and they will put a cap on the Indian nuclear arsenal. But when the D-Day came they realized that they cannot always think as politicians and on some issues they must [make] a decision on national interest; hence finally they backed the deal.

In the US too it was Democrats who advocated a good relationship with India but it is President [George W] Bush who is making an all-out effort to woo India. And it is quite natural that Democrats are criticizing the deal, citing this or that danger, but I predict a similar result.

I firmly believe that in democratic countries foreign policy cannot be changed at the whim and fancy of some individual leader. Unless there is a broad understanding between Republican and Democrats in the US, Congress and BJP in India, Bush and [Prime Minister] Manmohan Singh wouldn't dare to [break] this deal.

Shivanantham
Cuddalore, India (Apr 17, '06)

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Re
Indian nuclear deal: Bad timing by Bush [Apr 1]:

I still believe that the American Congress will approve this nuclear deal and the nuclear ayatollahs too will fall in line for this deal, as the Indian communists did, because there is near-unanimous belief in both countries that neither the US nor India poses any threat to [the] other. In fact, since both countries share the same ideals, prudent calls that they must join hands and success of this deal will cement that.

Moreover, since the US lawmakers have already blocked a Chinese company's attempt to buy an American oil company and also blocked a Dubai port company's bid to [operate some] US ports, I don't think they would block this deal too, because they surely know that having [one] enemy is not dangerous, but making everybody an enemy is utterly foolish, and if their opponents decide to join hands, that will turn fatal for them.
On the other hand, I regret that India has missed a golden opportunity to [see that] its and other Third World countries' (Iran) grievances are addressed. Apart from maintaining good relationships with all countries, had India (with the countries which have [been] unsatisfied with the UN) transformed the NAM [Non-Aligned Movement] as an alternative body [to] the UN, and made it a democratically functioning forum, sans veto, it would have compelled the US to accommodate India or to reform the UN. And if Iran, another member, [could have been] convinced that such a body [would] protect it in [its hours of need], maybe it [would not have taken] the nuclear option. There is still time for India to revive NAM. If the US is still unwilling to reform the UN, the best option would be to make NAM more powerful so we can make the UN irrelevant.

Shivanantham
Cuddalore
, India
(Apr 3, '06)

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It seems that in order to belittle Sonia Gandhi, Sandeep [Khurana] and Rocky (letters, Mar 27) have made absurd arguments. They presume that it was Sonia Gandhi who personally engineered a ploy to remove Jaya Bachchan. Had it been her ploy she must have done her homework well and realized that all political parties would fall victim for it. I guess an over-enthusiastic Congress party man, knowing the animosity between them, would have thought that [by] putting Jaya Bachchan in a fix he can impress Sonia Gandhi, but squarely end up causing more harm to his own party. And it is also virtually impossible for Sonia Gandhi to monitor every issue related to her party so she can veto it before it creates controversy.

Still, by resigning, she has not lost anything to call it a sacrifice. But the very fact that many politicians will never give up their power easily (I have not heard in the recent past [of] someone doing so) makes Sonia Gandhi's decision exemplary. In other words, we Indians are proud of our democratic credentials, but that doesn't mean ours is a noble democracy; ours only seems to be much better than others (Third World countries).
And what is wrong if government tries to bring an ordinance to correct an anomaly? Parliamentary debate [is required] only when there [is] ample time to debate or there are serious differences between parties ...
Finally, this so-called foreign lady is not thrusting her or her own country's ideals upon us, but as it is a duty of any daughter-in-law to fulfill the wishes of her husband's family, she is simply doing her duty. If Indians prefer family strongholds in political parties, as witnessed in many other parties, it is our fault, not hers.

Shivanantham
Cuddalore
, India
(Mar 28, '06)

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Re
Sonia's 'inner voice' silences critics [Mar 25]:

Everybody knows that if there is a rule then there must be an exception. It is up to our wisdom to discern between enforcing rules [while] giving exception to some. The law which prevents people from holding two offices is good in nature but, I think, that can hardly be applied to Sonia [Gandhi]'s case.

It is quite practical that a leader of a party, which governs India, wants to be in parliament to represent/defend her party [while] holding offices like chairman [of the] National Advisory Council to guide her colleagues. Even if it is legally wrong to hold two offices, Sonia must be unaware of such law. I guess she has simply followed what is in vogue. And once realizing there is legal ambiguity in her case, she has taken the right decision to resign.
Had someone advised her [of] such a law and in spite of that advice if she had preferred to hold two offices, the opposition [might have had] some justification politicizing the issue. But since that is not the case, the need of the hour is identifying such an absurd law and reforming it. But the sad part of the story is, Indian politicians always wake up at the eleventh hour to make corrections.

Shivanantham
Cuddalore
, India (Mar 27, '06)

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Re
Irreversible Iranians (Mar 18):

The standoff between the US and Iran is truly disturbing. While I don't believe that either the US or Iran [has] any imperial designs, some of their actions do make other countries worry about their security. Let us analyze the US stand first. After defeating imperial Japan and entering a nuclear era, the Americans firmly believe (I too) that it will dearly cost us to let a dictator emerge and have a devastating nuclear war. But ironically, in the process of eliminating a possible threat, the Americans themselves end up being called an imperial force. And it is also true that the US backed and is backing some dictators because it cannot achieve its twin objectives of defeating its enemy and promoting democracy at one go. Hence it had to adjust with some dictators to some extent, but the world calls it double standard. The trouble with the Americans [is that] they want to give their citizens nuclear-protected security but [are] advising all of us to have faith in life, and they want the entire world to turn democratic the very next day but if we talk about democratizing the UN and giving up [the US veto in the Security Council], they will tell us that time is not rife for it, we will have to wait a few more decades. I firmly believe a fully democratic ... UN will make many countries [want] to give up nukes. If we analyze the Iranian cause, they seem to be entertaining, to large extent, an imaginary threat. First, they don't have a nuclear neighbor (Pakistan's willingness to sell nuclear technology makes it a friendly country) to worry [about and are] surrounded by only fellow Muslim countries. Only the US is driving Iran toward nukes. But why should the US attack Iran if it were a democracy and a non-nuclear state? If Iranians think they deserve nukes since the Americans have them, [do not the Iranian people deserve] to have democracy as the Americans have? In these cases both are playing a foul game. If Iran turns true democracy and gives up the nuclear option it will deprive the US of a [reason] to attack Iran. And also I doubt the US will ever dare to attack a democratic country since not only the world but the American citizens too are staunchly opposing a (Iraq) war to dethrone a dictator. Iran is justified in only one count. However noble the world may be, practically every country wants to have a security net. For that there is only one solution. The friendly countries [toward] Iran (including India) which are asking Iran to give up nukes must publicly pledge that should Iran were to be attacked by a third country without a UN sanction, then they will support Iran even if it leads to a nuclear war.

Shivanantham
Cuddalore, India (Mar 20, '06)

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Re
The US's nuclear cave-in [Mar 4]:

Like many authors, Joseph Cirincione has shown the penchant of revealing only the facts which he wants to reveal while conveniently hiding other important facts to strengthen his case. The author just mentioned in passing that while all five nuclear countries agreed to stop the production of nuclear-weapon material, India is refusing to do so. But the fact that he did not reveal here is that all the countries (Big 5) had enough nuclear tests and stockpiled more than necessary nuclear weapons or material before proclaiming [a] moratorium. It is like a robber [who has] robbed more than enough money suddenly claiming that he [has] realized his folly and henceforth he will be a law-abiding person. If India tries to stockpile more weapons than its adversary, then only it can be accused of setting [a] wrong precedent for other. Until then, India's desire for nuclear weapons is completely legitimate. In other words, it is also not uncommon in many countries [that] citizens are allowed to have guns if they have no criminal background. India's credentials are well known to the world. And about his [Cirincione's] other comment that India cheated the US and other countries to obtain nuclear technology, I would say that history often proved that when a country faces severe threat from other countries it hardly honors any commitment given to others. Look what the US has done when terrorists attacked it on its own soil. Did the US care about the fact that it was one of the countries which founded the UN? By sidestepping the UN, did not the US fail to fulfill its commitment to the august body? I justify India and the US stand of breaching their words simply because they have not voluntarily initiated this foul game but the terrorist attack and China's possession of nukes left little option [to them]. I appreciate his [Cirincione's] desire of seeing the world nuclear-free. But since half of the world is still ruled by dictators and fanatics, and not knowing what kind of weapons they have and how they will fight in future, I can hardly find an alternative to nukes.

Shivanantham
Cuddalore
, India
(Mar 7, '06)

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I truly appreciate Saqib Khan ([letter] Feb 16) for refusing to accept the Western values which in his words are "decadent, immoral, vulgar, materialistic, selfish, and racist and in decline". And also I hope that next time he will advise his fellow Muslims not to seek nuclear weapons, since that also is the invention of the same Western countries and dangerous as well. And he should also explain why, knowing well about Western culture, he is living in such a country and why the Muslim population is increasing (through [immigration]) in Europe. Perhaps he is the kind of person who [has] found how rotten his host is but have no qualms having lunch (staying) there.

Shivanantham
Cuddalore, India (Feb 22, '06)

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I found it ironic that the US, Europe, India etc, whose [governments are] elected by the people, are being criticized as hegemonic and warmongers while Iraq and Iran, which have no democratic credentials (I regard a country as democratic where [an] elected leader holds complete authority), find many supporters even among [the] educated. On the face of it the Americans', along with Europeans', effort to prevent the [Persian] Gulf countries from having nuclear weapons, since they have the same, may seem unjustifiable. But we cannot call every crime a crime per se. Some can be justifiable, and some we cannot even avoid. Someone said, "Being fortunate is also ... unfortunate." If the Gulf countries are lucky [in] having oil, the same wealth makes [those] countries vulnerable to world pressure. As Perry Bone ([letter] Feb 15) rightly observed, if we slap our erring children to correct them, someone can say it is crime against children, but the intention is just to guide them, though unwillingly. I also found it ironic that whenever Muslims [are] criticized for their misdeeds they simply cite few noble verses in the Koran and say, "How can you criticize Islam, which has set such an ideal path to follow?" If that were the criterion to judge Muslims, then I would like to remind the Muslims just to read the [US] constitution and you too will find how noble [a] path they [Americans] also have set to follow. Or perhaps Muslims want that Islam should be judged just by reading the Koran, but the Americans have to be judged by what they do on the ground.

R Shivanantham
Cuddalore
, India
(Feb 16, '06)

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