Sri Lanka justifies troop presence in former war zones

April 16th, 2014

On April 12th, three LTTE operatives were killed in the North by Sinhalese military. In the past the UN human rights council had requested that Sri Lanka work toward a peace agreement with the LTTE, however; the Sri Lankan, Sinhalese government deny the possibility of such an agreement. The government sees the LTTE as a major security problem to the country and are not interested in working toward an outcome that they believe the LTTE to disregard. It was reported that the three LTTE operatives had been working for two Europe-based leaders of the LTTE: Nediyavan and Vinayagam. The tree were armed and killed during their attempted escape during a search operation in Padaviya in the northern province.

Conflict between India and Sri Lanka has been prevalent for many years. The conflict is primarily due to the civil war conflict in Sri Lanka between the Sinhalese Buddhist majority and government, against the Tamil Hindu minority (LTTE) of the North. After winning the civil war by eliminating the LTTE in 2009, Sri Lanka was meant to develop a peace agreement with the previous LTTE members, and the Tamil minority of the north. This agreement process was key in retaining positive relations with India. India has been forced to intervene in the past (in the Sri Lankan civil war) due to an overwhelming push from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu to aid the Tamil Hindu minority against the oppressive, Sinhalese Buddhist majority. The confirmed statement from the government minister Mahinda Samarasignhe that Sri Lanka will not engage in the peace agreement process that they had promised to work toward at the end of the civil war, will without a doubt create tension between India and Sri Lanka once again.

False Facebook “Likes” are to be monitored in light of Indian Elections

April 16th, 2014

False Facebook “Likes” are to be monitored in light of Indian Elections

With the emergence of social media and the power that social media has to reach voters, especially of younger age groups. It is no wonder that Indian political parties are relying heavily on these social outlets. With half of India’s citizens under the age of twenty-five, it is perhaps the most cost-effective way in order to reach out to this age group. According to the article, “52,000 pages exist for politicians and political parties in India. Of them 60 are verified pages.” There is a massive amount of outsourcing fake “likes” and activity that promotes parties and can potentially persuade voters purely by their online presence. With “93 million monthly active users of Facebook” it is an engine that can have great potential. The BJP party has fully embraced social media and because of this may have better results with the conclusion of the election. The question that needs to be addressed is: Is buying fake “likes” and purchasing activity for social media pages to be frowned upon?

Facebook has taken it upon themselves to try and diminish as many of the fake “likes” and profiles that they can. However, it is inevitable that a great deal will slip through the cracks and continue to provide support for certain parties. It is a tactic that has only recently emerged and been embraced by political parties. In the United States. Social media and alternative sources of media have boomed in recent elections. Is this where elections will start to head in the future? With stronger focus on social media and less on actual campaigning? How much of a balance should be made going forward? I believe this current election will provide many answers. It will be interesting to see where politics lands with social media in the upcoming years.

India under Narendra Modi

April 16th, 2014

India is now going through what is been referred to as the most significant and largest election in the democratic world. It has an estimated number of 815 million voters, and voting will take place between a 30 day span. There have been a lot of speculations as to what party will win this election. According to an article in CNN, a lot of fingers point to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) leader, Narendra Modi. One of the major reasons to this is that India has not had a lot of economic growth after their major 5% break under the incumbent government, United Progressive Alliance (UPA). Due to this, voters are hoping that Modi might be able to “steer the economy in the right direction” in order to get a liberated economy that will provide more in terms of job opportunities and economic growth, says Dilip Dutta, director of the South Asian Studies Group at the University of Sydney” He furthermore explains that “these young voters are exposed through electronic media to the whole world, and have a dream of moving forward — not lagging behind as their fathers and grandfathers have for decades.” Dutta explains that Modi’s model was widely seen as offering better prospects of economic development, particularly by the young voters tipped to play a key role in the election. So far the prediction of Modi seems to be coming true as almost 80% of those surveyed by Pew had a positive view of Modi, with 60% describing their impressions of him as very favorable compared to 50% for Gandhi with just 23% for “very favorable” responses.

With results like this, it is quite easy to predict who will win this election, but the most important question is, “What should Indian and its counterparts expect under a new government like the NDA, especially when it comes to foreign policy changes?

Another article from the Guardian explains some of what India can expect under a Modi government. The article stated that a “flagging Indian economy, absence of key individuals committed to the relationship in the White House and the fact that the relationship is transactional and not strategic, may be one reason for Washington’s lack of interest. It further stated that even though  sales and joint military exercises are thriving between India and the U.S, the European Union and the UK, both appear to be more interested in India than vice versa. But things are about to change as Modi is prepared to “grow up” and readjusting to the new reality.”  While campaigning, he has already signaled a tougher line on ongoing border disputes with China and has said that he wants to see a ‘strong’ India that cannot be ‘stared down’ by other powers.” It further stated that Modi’s pro-business and pro-trade qualities will lead him to cultivate strong relations across the board…”Yet at the same time, he will certainly react more strongly to provocations from neighbours than did the Congress-led government.”

India Launches New Navigation Satellite

April 16th, 2014

According to the Times of India, India launched it’s second navigation satellite for its new regional navigation satellite system, which is set to compete with the US GPS system. This will allow India to be a regional competitor to the American GPS system, and also give India more independence when it comes to national security as well. According to Russia Today, this was a lesson learned during the Kargil war, when India asked the US for help in getting GPS data on positions on Pakistani troops. The United States denied India this help, and so a regional navigation system will greatly improve India’s capacity to defend itself, without reliance on foreign help.

Some specifications about this system, according to the same Russia Today article, include:

“• It will provide a position accuracy of better than 20 meters in the primary service area.
• IRNSS consists of a space segment and a ground segment; the space segment comprising seven satellites, with three satellites in geostationary orbit and four satellites in inclined geosynchronous orbit.
• IRNSS satellites would revolve round the earth at the height of about 36,000 kilometers from the earth’s surface.
• It will be useful in land, sea and air navigation, disaster management, vehicle tracking and fleet management, integration with mobile phones, provision of precise time, mapping, and navigation aid for hikers and travelers, visual and voice navigation for drivers.
• It can track people or vehicles and can be of immense use in disaster situations like last year’s flashfloods in Uttarakhand.
• It will be a boon for the railways for tracking wagons.
• A highly accurate Rubidium atomic clock is part of the navigation payload of the satellite.”

India is set to complete launching all seven satellites into orbit by the middle of 2015, thus completing the system in a fairly fast amount of time.

A Champion for Human Rights (?)

April 16th, 2014

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of India ruled that transgenders would be recognized as a separate third gender, which shows how India is projecting itself on a global scale. Articles from the Times of India and Hindustan Times agree that this landmark decision is a huge step forward for transgender rights. The Supreme Court argued that continued discrimination of transgenders went against the constitution, and that they should be seen as a socially and economically backward class that should be included in welfare programs. Indian media is not alone in its praise for the decision, though. International news organizations have run the story. A BBC article included the observation that there is much cause for celebration because around 28,000 transgenders are eligible to vote for the first time this election. Undoubtedly, India is portraying itself as a champion of human rights, showing the rest of the world that it is a leader on this front.

However, this landmark decision has opened India up to more scrutiny in the area of sexual orientation. An Al Jazeera article noted that this decision came after the Supreme Court reinstated a ban on gay sex last year. Indian media agrees that in light of this decision there is a need to extend justice to other marginalized groups, specifically the LGBT community. Therefore, while India tries to show the world that it is a leader for human rights, more people are taking notice of where they have fallen short of the mark. For India to truly take lead on this subject, there is some work to be done.

Lack of Afforable Housing in BRIC Nations

April 16th, 2014

A recent article from The Times of India addresses how BRIC nations have not been able to supply enough affordable housing for their growing population. Specifically India and Brazil are experiencing a growth in urbanization where families are migrating into cities from rural areas. According to the Global Affordable Housing Report “rising income inequalities and a tendency for housing costs to rise faster than incomes have posed major difficulties for younger and poorer households in finding adequate homes.” As mentioned in a recent article from the BBC, police in Brazil evicted 5,000 people from a squatter community in Rio de Janeiro. These squatter communities are common in Latin America because of its high rate of poverty and lack of affordable housing. The report suggested that housing policies should focus at the local level rather than at the broad, national level. Problems and conditions are different in every city and the best way to approach the issue of affordable housing is to analyze it using a smaller lens. There are many local, regional issues that contribute to inequality, and while the lack of affordable housing is a national problem, developing the most effective policies should be made at the local level where specific problems can be more easily addressed.

A Probable BJP Victory in Coming Elections

April 15th, 2014

According to a recent Times article, the BJP are expected to win a very small majority of legislative seats in the coming elections. Polls currently show the party winning 275 seats exceeding the number of 272 for a majority. It is interesting to see the dynamics of this years election play out due to the style of voting. It seems as if it is not individual incumbents that gain the advantage but only incumbents from the BJP.

The people of India are seemingly demanding an entire change in how they have been governed since 2004. The main reason the public sees the need for change is the slow of growth. GDP has not been the same as it has been in past years sliding to lower than 5%. While the election is far from over, it seems that the people think the BJP can bring India back to its rapid rate of growth.

The elections are shaping up to be extremely intense and extremely tight.There are many variables that may play a part up until the May 16th result date. I am exciting to see how things will pan out in one of the most rapidly growing powers in the world.


Articles :

India Tests new K-4 SLBM

April 2nd, 2014

According to the Times of India India has tested its new K4 SLBM (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile) which has an improved range of 2,000 kilometers, in comparison to the K-15 which has a range of 750.  This comes at a time when India is trying to finish developing its nuclear triad, and allows for an improved nuclear deterrent, quite possibly against China.

It also allows for India to have increased power projection, and significantly increases India’s military strength.  India is currently trying to finish building their first indigenous ballistic missile submarine, the INS Arihant which is set to undergo sea trials later this year.

This, on top of their recently acquired aircraft carrier shows that India is trying to increase their naval capabilities, and have an increased presence across the Indian Ocean, and perhaps also build up its capabilities beyond the Indian Ocean.


April 2nd, 2014

Us vs China in the eyes of Indians

India’s geographical position establishes it as a single functioning democracy among many dictatorships, unruly non-state actors, and unsettled governments in its region.  Election in India are fast approaching and the outcome of these elections affect not only the citizens.  Indians vote theirs favorites into power, who then make decisions that affect the domestic and international aspect of Indian foreign affairs.

An article by the Pew Research Center notes that Indians favor the US (56%) over China (35%).  Indians are more incline to vote the representatives into office that will favor better relations with the US.  Additionally, about 70% of Indians have an unfavorable view Pakistan though many still desire better relations with the country.  The Indian government can expect increased pressure to push a more internationally focused agenda.  

Hana S.

Hindu/Islam conflict in Pakistan could negatively influence relations with India

April 2nd, 2014

India’s relations with Pakistan have been negative largely due to religious differences. Hindus make up the majority of India’s population although the country also fosters other religions including Islam. India has had to deal with rising extremist groups from both religions domestically but these conflicts in part have also lead to the Kashmir conflict between Pakistan and India. India often reacts to Hindu/Islam conflict out of  obligation to support Hindus. Therefore, the conflict occurring in Sindh province in Pakistan between Hindus and Muslims affects India’s foreign policy and relations with Pakistan.

On April 1st, 2014 The Times of India reported on a conflict erupting in Sindh province in Pakistan due to an attack on a Hindu ashram of Faqir Par Braham. In the attack, a ‘trishul’ was stolen, and parrh (cloth wrapped around an idol) was completely destroyed. According to Raja Bhawan of Tharparkar’s Hindu panchayat, the attack was due to a conspiracy, leading Muslims to target the entire Hindu community within Sindh. Four suspects have been arrested and the stolen trishul recovered. The Hindus of Sindh took to the streets in protest of the attack, and several businesses to shutdown.

As someone familiar with Hindu ashrams, it is important to note the peaceful atmosphere of ashrams, as well as their nonviolent dichotomy. Because this conflict has  targeted Hindus and Hindu religious practice India may be forced to react due to domestic pressures. As seen in India’s relations with Sri Lanka, Hindus within india pressure India to counter act violence against Hindus in neighboring countries. This pressure has greatly influenced India’s foreign policy with its neighbors prior to this attack. However, with negative relations already existing between India and Pakistan this conflict in Sindh is likely to result in a continuation of negative relations, and possibly more conflict between the two countries.