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Tuesday July 17, 2018

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

DSA IS AS MUCH YOURS, AS IT IS OURS! (July 2018)

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India has aspirations of being a world player. It has belief in its ability to play an influential role in global politics. And it believes it is only a matter of time before it becomes a major factor on the world stage. That belief stems from its obvious potential as a nation, armed with human resources of first rate quality, an economy that could well be the biggest in the world given some corrective measures, and a geographical position that would be the envy of most in the world. That potential has not been harnessed to its optimum levels precisely because of that geography.

It is a well-known fact that names, faiths, friends, etc. can be changed at the drop of a hat, but geography cannot be tampered with for the love of God. Geography is what a country is born with, made by tectonic energies over millions of years. It is as permanent as is the earth. So for India to grow to its fullest potential, it first needs to take a deep look at its geography, its location on the map, the vast ocean that surrounds it, and the high Himalayas that have sustained it over millions of years.

An analysis of geography shows that adjoining India are the countries which together comprise South Asia, a veritable sub-continent. And it is with these countries that India has to first reconcile its geographical and political interests. Going by age old Indian wisdom, there is a saying that it is important to have good relations with neighbouring villages. No village is a stand alone entity, and it cannot be in conflict with those on its boundary. This holds true for international politics too. And even more when it comes to India and its South Asian neighbours.

In an election year, it is expected that foreign policy issues will take a back seat. Pakistan has already begun its process, in the backdrop of controversial judicial interventions. India is getting into election mode with parliamentary polls less than a year away. So to expect any breakthroughs would be a wishful thinking. In any case, breakthroughs are not desirable in the first instance. What is required is a modicum of exchange that is decent, humane, and diplomatic.

The sole purpose of governance anywhere in the world is to make society affluent and more secure. Both aspirations are conjoined, and one cannot be achieved without the other. Geographical awareness suggests taking advantage of India’s place on the map. The busiest oceanic trade routes could be aped on land too, thus benefitting more than a billion people. But for that, India and Pakistan would first have to arrive at a reconciliation that is based on a reality check, what is and what is not achievable from an adversarial. This reconciliation will pave the way for the greater good of the region, especially Pakistan which risks falling into a permanent bind with its flirtation with extremism. Geography can help all, but only those who are willing and have the vision to take advantage from it.

 

DSA IS AS MUCH YOURS, AS IT IS OURS! (June 2018)

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Even as Palestinian refugees demand their right to return to native lands, and are massacred in the process, the Syrian crisis remains the focal point of events in West Asia. It almost seems that the crisis has been deliberately dragged on for so long so as to suit the interests of certain countries. In the process, thousands of innocents have lost their lives, priceless assets lost, antiquities stolen or damaged beyond repair—a country seemingly at war with itself. But all is not as it appears to the casual observer, for there are wheels within wheels at play.

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DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (MAY 2018)

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The Government of India has announced the formation of a new body to oversee the entire gamut of defence and national security for the country. The fresh development is that it includes steps taken earlier by previous attempts at policy analysis and implementation, and it also features an innovation in having the National Security Advisor as the lead player in the new structure. The NSA will now head a new body called Defence Planning Committee that includes the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, the Service Chiefs, and the Secretaries of Defence, Foreign Affairs and Expenditure from the Ministry of Finance. An interesting feature of this new body is the simultaneous creation of four sub-committee to focus on policy and strategy, plans and capability development, defence diplomacy and the defence manufacturing ecosystem. This is a fairly holistic approach to matters connected with defence and national security. Especially at a time when senior military officers have been airing their grievances from public platforms about the slow pace of modernisation afflicting their services. This is a departure from the past when military officers were seldom seen and never heard. The crisis must, indeed, be serious.

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DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (December 2016)

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Global climate change talks are proceeding at a pace not seen in many years. There seems to be a greater earnestness now than there has ever been. Paris and then Marrakech! Eagerness to come to identifiable and implementable goals is the paramount objective. At least so, it appears in public estimation. So when they talk climate and it’s changing nature, they invariably focus on to the most apparent aspect of this phenomenon, the oceans and glaciers. While the Himalayan glaciers are losing water rapidly into rivers to which they give birth, the Arctic and Antarctic glaciers are melting fast enough to see rising seas and oceans as the most fundamental climate change problem.

 

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DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (November 2016)

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There is something common in the requirement that will make up the future soldier and policeman. Strange as it may seem, because the job profile and the professional role of both these essentials of national security are at such variance to each other. The soldier is, after all, the sword arm of the state, the last option, resort of the government. While the policeman is the essential public interface with the people, the one who ensures that faith is not lost in governance. And that, there is no breakdown in the moral authority of the state.

 

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