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

DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (February-2020)

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Some political leaders are known to seek diversions from their daily concerns, headaches, or even a looming crisis. This has been a trait known to humankind since the days of life in caves, and today is prevalent in democracies and dictatorships alike. So, it didn’t come as a surprise that murmurs about ongoing impeachment proceedings began as soon as news broke that the United States had assassinated an Iranian general in a drone strike. After all, President Donald Trump was in the midst of impeachment proceedings and announced the assassination as a major gain in the campaign against terror.

It couldn’t be further from the truth, for Maj Gen Qasem Soleimani, Commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Republic Guard Corps, was rarely accused of being involved in the deaths of US’ soldiers or civilians. By no means, a saint, Maj Gen Soleimani, was involved in the spread of Iran’s activities from the anti- Taliban alliance to shoring up the beleaguered Syrian regime. And, anything in between that involved the interests of the minority Shi’a sect, be it Lebanon, Iraq or even Yemen. Most of all in the brutal campaign against the dreaded and short-lived ‘caliphate’ of the Islamic State. But being involved in the taking of American lives was not something he had been accused of. In fact information came out after his killing to suggest he had quietly helped American sailors who had strayed into Iranian waters.

Were it the case of avenging American lives, and preventing future casualties; Hafeez Saeed, the chief patron of Lashkar-e Tayyaba, is undoubtedly more guilty. For the 2008 Mumbai attacks for which his group was held undeniably guilty claimed more American lives than could be placed at the door of Maj Gen Soleimani. But such is the nature of international politics, especially in West Asia, where many decisions don’t make sense, in the short or long terms. And that is same with the assassination of Maj Gen Soleimani. Especially its impact on Indian interests, security and economic.

India and Iran cooperated closely in maintaining the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan when the country was being brutalised by the Taliban regime. Those were dark days indeed and the Northern Alliance could deliver in October 2001 only because India and Iran had kept it alive. Such security interests don’t change with time since they’re determined by geography and sociology, both of which are unchangeable too. So, India’s tepid response to the assassination was strange, to say the least. In simple terms, it was not in Indian interests.

Just as tensions in West Asia are not in Indian interests, whether they’re created by a trigger happy US President or even a local potentate. For there are far too many Indians living and working in the region and anything that put their lives and livelihoods at risk is a disaster for the country. Then India has significant economic interests in the region, from hydrocarbon imports to infrastructure projects, chief amongst which is the Chabahar Port in Iran. Disruptions of any kind is bad for India, therefore its policies should be made with its own interests in mind, not at the pleasure of anyone faraway.

 

DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (January-2020)

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The outgoing Chief of Army Staff has made a very pertinent observation about the future of warfare. He won’t be repeating the remarks during the traditional pubic interaction on the occasion of the upcoming Army Day 2020 on 15 January, since he retired at the end of December. But these are important observations, especially given the backdrop of repeated utterances that have bordered on the avoidable, or, some downright against the army ethos.

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

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The United Nations recently declared that the six-month deadline for Britain to return the Chagos Islands to Mauritius had passed. It had voted in May 2019 for the return of the islands, and gave Britain six months to do so. But it seems that holding the islands is far more important for Britain than international censure or even some kind of sanctions. It isn’t difficult to see why, since amongst the islands is the famous military station, Diego Garcia, which Britain has leased to the United States. It remains one of the most important bases anywhere in the world, and the most secretive too.

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

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After much humming and hawing, India and Pakistan finally signed along the dotted line to activate the much announced Kartarpur Gurudwara Corridor. Media reports had long back said that the signing would be delayed. So much so, some even wondered whether it would be done at all. Pakistan had once announced that all Indian pilgrims would pay a dollar fees, but now that too has been waived by an announcement made by Prime Minister Imran Khan. The on-off, and on again, nature of the Kartarpur Corridor issue truly captures all that has gone amiss in the running of a once hyped South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

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

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Raksha Mantri Sh Rajnath Singh has become the first to hold that office who has flown a sortie in Light Combat Aircraft Tejas. The indigenously developed LCA Tejas holds its own importance to many people connected with the Air Force, and Indian defence industry and management generally. What it above all stands for is the ability of Indian scientists and engineers to master critical technologies so as to make a modern combat aircraft. That is a matter of pride as the country approaches its annual Air Force Day on 08 October.

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