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Saturday September 21, 2019

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Manvendra Singh Blog - DSA's Editor-in-Chief

DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (September 2019)

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After a long stand-off, the Iranian tanker, Grace 1, has set sail from Gibraltar, heading eastbound, allegedly for Syria. Which is where the root of this crisis lies! Washington tried to prevent the tanker from sailing and in fact asked for it to be handed over. The Gibraltar courts would have none of it, and let it free after weeks in detention. In the meantime it has been renamed Adrian Darya-1, why so is not such a mystery after all given the nature of the crisis.

The US and Iran were headed for a clash since the time President Trump won his elections in 2016. He had let it be known that the globally accepted USIran nuclear agreement signed by former President Obama was unacceptable and would be rescinded. He did just that, pleasing nobody other than Israel and Saudi Arabia. It hasn’t helped him that Europe continues to stand by the agreement, and it certainly doesn’t help him that Iran dodges and manoeuvres its way in and out of crises, singed but dogged. All of this has enormous portends for the region, the Gulf, Western Asia and beyond.

This is even more so given that the US is now on the verge of negotiating a deal with the Taliban. What was once unthinkable is now an emerging reality, and what was once avoidable is also a reality. This poses a serious diplomatic and economic challenge for India, grappling as it is with a slowing economy and a high fuel import bill. When the economics of trade are based on getting the best value for money, and saving transportation costs, Iranian oil was always a good option for India. Distances involved were less and supplies hardly ever tampered with. And then there was history too.

India, Iran and Russia had sustained the erstwhile Northern Alliance in Afghanistan when the country was under the brutal rule of the Taliban. All three had interests in common when it came to Afghanistan, a country that can and does impact the security of many in the world. But interests changed over the years, as India was increasingly drawn into developing commonalities with the US. And with that came the additional price of a slowing Indo-Iran relationship. Oil trade and Chahbahar port the primary issues that will pay a price as far as India is concerned in the long run.

Now that Jammu and Kashmir has seen dramatic administrative and political changes, Afghanistan is poised to see something similarly dramatic, and a calculating Pakistan in between India’s long term ally in this game, Iran, is increasingly out of the picture. Which cannot be a good thing for India and its national security concerns. Even as the US becomes increasingly insular, there is no reason for India to do the same. For insularity is never good policy when the game is being played in the international arena. Chess moves have long term logic, and cannot be played with shortterm agendas. Something that civilisational neighbours should be well aware of!


DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (August 2019)

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The country is currently in the midst of marking the 20th anniversary of conflict in Kargil. Many events are to be held and memories rekindled about the brief but very brutal war fought on the heights of Kargil sector and the brave to be always remembered. For that is the duty of those who remain behind. And, also their duty to keep in mind the primacy of national security and all that entails in making it a success. On that account a lot more needs to be done.


DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (July 2019)

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Despite years of Civil War with its Tamil minority, a brutal insurgency in the South involving its Sinhala majority, nothing quite prepared Sri Lanka for the sheer scale and surprise of the 21st April Easter Sunday multiple attacks. Everything about them was like new, unexpected, and horrifying in its impact. The repercussions of which are going to be long lasting, both in terms of the society and the state. An over reach by the state has already been reported, but at this early stage of the investigations, this is only to be expected in the aftermath of what is a truly frightening scenario for Sri Lanka.


DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (June 2019)

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Congratulations to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for winning the 2019 General Elections with a bigger margin than expected. The political importance of the elections is manifold but what is of greater interest is that the principal platform, and issue, on which it was fought, and won, is national security. This would make this, probably, the first Indian election to be contested and won on national security. A fact that deserves greater and more serious consideration by all. That national security resonates across the spectrum should not be lost, even if there is a regional bias in the end outcome.


DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (May 2019)

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Mankind’s curiosity with flight took centuries of effort before it became a reality, little more than a century ago. Since then the ability to fly, to control flight, and to send manmade objects into space has proceeded at a pace that is truly astonishing. It is astounding how rapidly human beings have overcome the barriers of flight, and demonstrated mastery over various modes of flying machines. In all of human evolution, no other field has been won over so rapidly and to the extent that it has. In terms of research and development as well, more energies are invested in all types of flight than possibly in any other field.

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