Monday, November 20, 2006

Known Knowns, Known Unknowns, and Unknown Unknowns

I borrow a phrase from the Great Man Who Almost Thought He Could Someday Be President. The title is self explanatory.

The Known Knowns

1) The policy shift initiated by President Bush and Manmohan Singh in March of 2006 caught most of the Indian and American policy circles by surprise. There was some talk of a change in the way America did business with India but no one in India or the US actually believed the shift would happen. In India there was a growing enuii with American duplicity on the proliferation issue, the prevailing attitude in India vis-a-vis the US was one of live and let die. The Americans were heavily invested in their own propaganda, with several senior bureaucrats being seduced by visions of a Pax Americana based on an absolute control of nuclear energy and technology resouces. Neither of the visions reflected reality, India cannot afford to let the US die and the US dreams of world domination will never actually materialize.

2) The passage of the deal in the US Congress required that the Bush administration overcome a vast amount of internal opposition from people in the Congress that didn't like President Bush. There was also international opposition from China, Pakistan and the little countries in the NSG and inside the NPT. The Bush administration had to use up some political capital to achieve the passage of the deal in Congress. Failure to make this pass in the US Congress would have caused a catastrophic break in Indo-US relations. That has been avoided by the passage of this agreement.

3) On the Indian side, the high drama seen in the US over the nuclear deal will be mirrored when the parliament has to approve purchases from US sources. The ability to approve such changes will depend heavily on the Prime Minister's personal credibility within the halls of parliament. Nothing is guarenteed in India either.

4) The Indo-US nuclear deal effectively removed a major hurdle to India's reducing its dependence on imported carbon fuels. As could be expected there was a concerted attempt in the US by various special interest groups to see the reduction of dependence on imported carbon fuels replaced by a dependence on imported Uranium. This is why the attempts at building up a fuel reserve were frustrated by amendments in the Congress. On the global scale India with its long emphasis on a zero emission, closed fuel cycle has just been given a major boost. This completely alters the future of nuclear energy in the world.

5) The corruption and decay that has set into the US political system and the international proliferation system could not be adequately covered up by the fig leaves that the Senate attempted to insert into the nuclear deal. The absurd pretense of Pakistan's nuclear chastity and the repeated recertification of the Musharraf regime's poor record, suggests that the waking dream of non-proliferation as it stands today is coming to an end. So while the Senate has inserted all manner of surveillance clauses into the deal, given the complete incompetence of the US executive, the clauses will automatically become ineffective.

6) The Chinese and the Russians percieve this agreement between the US and India as a risk. These nations have both been able to dictate terms to their Indian technology clients because the US has kept itself out of the market. Now if the Agreement comes through, the pricing from China and Russia on products intended for the Indian markets will have to become competitive. Mind you, even if the Japanese and the Koreans are allowed by the Americans to enter India's technology market the Chinese and the Russians are going to have to lower their prices or offer better products. The WYSIWYG culture that they have been tugging along is not going to work.

The Known Unknowns

1) There is a strong suggestion that the Bush government made some unrealistic promises to evangelical groups in order to get this amendment to pass. As long as those promises pertained to the state of an American woman's uterus, an American gay person's rights and the ability of Christian folk to kill heathens and Muslims anywhere outside of India, I can't imagine how anyone in India would have any objection towards it. However were some comments made by someone speaking for President Bush mistakenly interpreted by overzealous American Christians to imply a guarentee that mass conversions to Christianity would be allowed by the Indians?

2) The US intelligence community is tied at the hip to America's mighty financial and economic machine. The US intelligence community will always act to protect the interests of the high and mighty in America, regardless of the cost to average American lives. As the high and mighty in America are obsessed with the idea that India will be a low cost high return investment opportunity, the USIC will seek to establish a firmer foothold for its predictive models in India. This means a wide expansion in information operations targetting India. To what extent will these actions degrade that essential loneliness crucial to the functioning of India's security machinery? Will the Americans know when to back off with their intrusive surveillance? or will they becomes seduced by the lure of complete knowledge and in searching for it lose the very predictability that they crave with India? How precisely will American intelligence targetting goals vis-a-vis India be set? will they be set by the present generation of Cold War geriatrics and their lunatic subordinates?

3) The American economy is inefficient and underproductive. The majority of this failure appears in the form of a poor culture of energy use and an exceptionally poor understanding of waste management and pollution. American strangleholds on oil prices, and the narcotics economies and their he current dominance over media technology enables them to whitewash this failing and to project a positive investment climate. This not a perpetual state of affairs, like the empires of old, this too shall pass and an age of consequences will be upon us. Can the American economy improve its poor culture of energy use before a general collapse sets in? The answer to this question is an important one, and will determine whether it makes sense to invest in America right now or to simply write off losses and invest elsewhere? If American bigwigs don't want to invest in America, why should the Chinese invest in America's burgeoning debt?

4) The Pakistanis are not going to be happy with the Indo-US deal. They are not going to be happy if the deal fails, and they are not going to be happy if the deal succeeds. They would have been happiest if the deal had never existed as an idea at all. To Pakistan is in a peculiar state where its military leadership is no longer in a position to guarentee the loyalty of the vast number of international terrorist groups that the Pakistani government is mixed up in. This is going to make Pakistani behaviour unpredictable. What is the right way to keep the Pakistanis from doing something very stupid?- No one knows for sure.

The Unknown Unknowns

There isn't much to say here, except that these will come into full view as the days pass.


At 7:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi maverick,
seriously doubt whether indian parliament is going to approve purchases of outdated reactors from the US. There are too many conditions attached.
1) There is lots of suspicion on both sides given the history of mistrust.
2) Also US is given to treating other states as there clients at best may be doormats. With India all this will have to change.They will have to give us technology. Let us see how the deal progresses.
with best

At 9:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi maverick,
one last thing why did the BJP not consider this deal before? Was this to do something with the timing?
BJP are our own version of neo-cons!!!

At 11:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BJP are not neocons. They are just republicans. Dems are Congress I. There are no words to describe what the Left and caste groups are or could be.

At 12:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


The grip of the Majlis-e-ittehadul Muslimeen on the community remains strong, With a Member representing Hyderabad in the Lok Sabha, five members in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, 40 corporators in Hyderabad and 95-plus members elected to various municipal bodies in Andhra Pradesh, the All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen is one of the foremost representatives of the city’s Muslims and the most powerful Muslim party in India and one can see the partys strenghth if it goes to Hyderabad old city and Parts of Muslim Dominated Villages of Andhra Pradesh everywhere u look u can see MIM written on walls ,lightpoles and buildings leaving aside green flags and posters of its Leadership and there small Offices . The Majlis has brought lot of development to the Old part of the city even after it is said it hasnt done anything by its opponents who are mostly Ex Majlis workers.The Majlis was formed in 1927 “for educational and social uplift of Muslims”. But it articulated the position that “the ruler and throne (Nizam) are symbols of the political and cultural rights of the Muslim community… (and) this status must continue forever”.The Majlis pitted itself against the Andhra Mahasabha and the communists who questioned the feudal order that sustained the Nizam’s rule. It also bitterly opposed the Arya Samaj, which gave social and cultural expression to the aspirations of the urban Hindu population in the Hyderabad State of those days.By the mid-1940s, the Majlis had come to represent a remarkably aggressive and violent face of Muslim communal politics as it organised the razakars (volunteers) to defend the “independence” of this “Muslim” State from merger with the Indian Union.According to historians, over 1,50,000 such `volunteers’ were organised by the Majlis for the Nizam State’s defence but they are remembered for unleashing unparalleled violence against Communal Hindus and the communists and all those who opposed the Nizam’s “go it alone” policy. It is estimated that during the height of the razakar `agitation’, over 30,000 people had taken shelter in the Secunderabad cantonment alone to protect themselves from these `volunteers’.But the razakars could do little against the Indian Army and even put up a fight. Kasim Rizvi, the Majlis leader, was imprisoned and the organisation banned in 1948. Rizvi was released in 1957 on the undertaking that he would leave for Pakistan in 48 hours. Before he left though, Rizvi met some of the erstwhile activists of the Majlis and passed on the presidentship to Abdul Wahed Owaisi, a famous lawyer and an Islamic scholar from jamia nizamia who also was jailed for nearly 10 months after he took over the Majlis leadership as the then govt wanted to abolish the Majlis party but Owaisi refused to do so and was seen as a person who had financially supported the party when it was a bankrupt and weak one after the Police Action in Hyderabad State.Owaisi is credited with having “re-written” the Majlis constitution according to the provisions of the Indian Constitution and “the realities of Muslim minority in independent India”, and fought the legal case for winning back darrusslam mim headquarters for years according to a former journalist, Chander Srivastava. For the first decade-and-a-half after this “reinvention”, the Majlis remained, at best, a marginal player in Hyderabad politics and even though every election saw a rise in its vote share, it could not win more than one Assembly seat.The 1970s saw an upswing in Majlis’ political fortunes. In 1969, it won back its party headquarters, Dar-us-Salaam — a sprawling 4.5-acre compound in the heart of the New City. It also won compensation which was used to set up an ITI on the premises and a women’s degree college in Nizamabad town. In 1976, Salahuddin Owaisi took over the presidentship of the Majlis after his father’s demise who also was also Jailed Various times .This started an important phase in the history of the Majlis as it continued expanding its educational institutions,Hospitals,Banks, including the first Muslim minority Engineering College and Medical College. Courses in MBA, MCA ,Nursing, Pharmacy and other professional degrees followed and now a daily newspaper known as Etemaad Daily. The 1970s were also a watershed in Majlis’ history as after a long period of 31 years, Hyderabad witnessed large-scale communal rioting in 1979. The Majlis came to the forefront in “defending” Muslim life and property Majlis workers could be seen at these moments defending the properties of Muslims in the wake of riots and these workers were very hard even for the police to control them even now it is a known fact that there are nearly about 2500 units of strong members who only act if there is a seirous threat to the Owaisi family and these members are under the direct orders of the Owaisi family which leads the Majlis party leaving aside thousands of workers and informers throughout the State and even outside the country far away till America and the Gulf countries.Salahuddin Owaisi, also known as “Salar-e-Millat” (commander of the community), has repeatedly alleged in his speeches that the Indian state has “abandoned” the Muslims to their fate. Therefore, “Muslims should stand on their own feet, rather than look to the State for help'’, he argues.This policy has been an unambiguous success in leveraging the Majlis today to its position of being practically the “sole spokesman” of the Muslims in Hyderabad and its environs.Voting figures show this clearly. From 58,000 votes in the 1962 Lok Sabha elections for the Hyderabad seat, Majlis votes rose to 1,12,000 in 1980. The clear articulation of this “stand on one’s feet” policy in education and `protection’ during riots doubled its vote-share by 1984. Salahuddin Owaisi won the seat for the first time, polling 2.22 lakh votes. This vote-share doubled in the 1989 Lok Sabha elections to over four lakhs.The Majlis has since continued its hold on the Hyderabad seat winning about five-and-a-half lakh votes each time.Despite remarkable economic prosperity and negligible communal violence in the past decade, the hold of the Majlis on the Muslims of Hyderabad remains, despite minor dents. And despite widespread allegations of Majlis leaders having “made money”, most ordinary Muslims continue to support them because, as one bank executive put it “they represent our issues clearly and unambiguously'’. An old Historian Bakhtiyar khan says the Owaisi family was a rich family even before entering Politics and he says he had seen the late Majlis leader Abdul Wahed Owaisi in an American Buick car at a time when rarely cars were seen on Hyderabad Roads and the family had strong relations with the ersthwhile Nizams of Hyderabad and the Paighs even now the family is considered to be one of the richest familes in Hyderabad.A university teacher says that the Majlis helped Muslims live with dignity and security at a time when they were under attack and even took the fear out of them after the Police action and adds that he has seen Majlis leaders in the front at times confronting with the Police and the Govt. Asaduddin Owaisi, the articulate UK educated barrister from Lincolns Inn College son of Salahuddin Owaisi and Former leader of the Majlis’ Legislature party and now an MP himself who has travelled across the globe meeting world leaders and organizatons and even in war zones compares the Majlis to the Black Power movement of America.The Majlis that emerged after 1957 is a completely different entity from its pre-independence edition, he says adding that comparisons with that bloody past are “misleading and mischievous”. “That Majlis was fighting for state power, while we have no such ambitions or illusions”.He stoutly defends the need for “an independent political voice” for the minorities, which is willing to defend them and project their issues “firmly”.“How can an independent articulation of minority interests and aspirations be termed communal,” he asks and contests any definition of democracy which questions the loyalty of minorities if they assert their independent political identity. “We are a threat not only to the BJP and Hindu communalism, but also to Muslim extremism,” Asaduddin claims. “By providing a legitimate political vent for Muslims to voice their aspirations and fears, we are preventing the rise of political extremism and religious obscurantism when the community is under unprecedented attack from Hindu communalists and the state'’. He can be seen in his speeches speaking against terrorism in the Country and says if the time arises Majlis will stand side by side in defending the Nation and Recently Majlis ittehadul Muslimeen MP Asaduddin Owaisi has Visited Lebanon after the war with israel and met the leaders of the resistance group Hezbollah and he has even visited Bombay and Malegaon Muslims and raised there issues in Parliament and has even represented the police torture victims to the Prime Minister and has given aid From Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen Party Fund.


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