India’s Untouchables to Get U.N. Boost

The United Nations is set to declare caste systems a human rights violation at the current meeting of its Human Rights Council in Geneva, in a bid to recognize centuries-old institutionalized discrimination against the world’s estimated 200 million Dalits, or untouchables. Draft principles being considered by the Council call for the “elimination of discrimination based on work and descent.” Dalits and similar groups face discrimination under existing caste systems in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Japan and Somalia. While Nepal came out in support of the move, India has objected to the use of the word “caste” in the draft principles […]

The U.N. climate change negotiations currently underway and set to conclude in Copenhagen late in 2009 seek to establish new arrangements in anticipation of the termination of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012. According to our current understanding of the science, a successful outcome to these negotiations is critical to maintaining a stable climate, even if the estimates of the costs of damage from inaction vary widely. The negotiations are currently beset by a series of obstacles. But if these are overcome, the resulting agreement will change the global landscape in terms of trade, politics and the entire international system. The […]

NEW DELHI — With the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) decimated in the northern provinces of Sri Lanka, India is now seeking greater involvement in the welfare of the Tamils in the island country. New Delhi is looking to supply electricity, rehabilitate and resettle displaced Tamils, and rebuild infrastructure in general. And this month, Rahul Gandhi, the general secretary of the ruling Congress party and son of the all-powerful Sonia Gandhi, emphasized that India will do everything in its power to protect the rights of the Tamil population in Sri Lanka. “The central government is applying as much pressure […]

Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram’s four-day visit to the United States earlier this month helped take India-U.S. ties to a higher level in the vital areas of counterterrorism and intelligence-sharing. But it also spotlighted a few related security issues that have been left unaddressed. Cooperation between India and the U.S. in the fields of defense and security is one of the key pillars of bilateral ties identified by the Obama administration and reinforced during U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s India visit in July. Chidambaram’s visit, too, was a continuation of the same dialogue, focusing on an assessment of South […]

India-China Border Incidents

Depending on how close you have your ear to the ground, you might have picked up some buzzing about Chinese military incursions across the “Line of Actual Control” that comprises its vaguely defined border with India. The incursions have included a helicopter flyover, as well as an “Animal House”-type incident where Chinese soldiers apparently tagged stones on the Indian side of the line with “China” graffiti in red paint. But they occur in the context of a significant Chinese infrastructure buildup and militarization — one that has caused a good deal of concern in New Delhi — along its side […]

During the last several weeks, Americans have found themselves back in the middle of a fierce debate over our continuing military effort in Afghanistan. What was Bush’s forgotten war had, until recently, seemed quite safely transformed in public opinion into Obama’s “war of necessity.” Now, because of Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s request for significantly more troops, coming on the heels of his public declaration that the Taliban are essentially “winning,” the ruling Democrats have suddenly been thrust back into “quagmire” mode. Predictably, we are once again awash in feverish Boomer analogies to Vietnam, despite the pronounced absence in Afghanistan of any […]

UAE Weapons Trans-shipments?

I’m going to go way out on a speculative limb on this one. But that UAE cargo plane carrying weapons to China that was detained while refueling in India suddenly seems like more than just a simple case of bad timing. The plane was detained while the Indian internal security minister was visiting Washington for talks on security (and counterterrorism) cooperation. It’s now emerging that there were some suspicions that the weapons on the plane included U.S.-manufactured Harpoon missiles sold to the UAE. And all this goes down at the same time a UAE crown prince is “making the rounds” […]

UAE Weapon Shipment to China

File this one under B, for Bad timing: Laura Rozen, from her new digs over at Politico (great pencil-drawing portrait!!), reports that the U.S.-UAE 123 nuclear agreement is due to escape congressional limbo in mid-October. The only potential wrench is concern over the UAE’s past history of lax export controls, in particular regarding potential diversion of controlled materials and technology to Iran. In other words, probably not the best time for a China-bound UAE cargo plane, stopping over for refueling in India, to not declare its cargo of arms and explosives. Apparently, the omisison resulted from a “technical error.” The […]

NEW DELHI — Even as they resist persistent pressure from Western nations to rein in their carbon emissions, India and China are warming up to each other on the contentious climate change issue. The rare display of solidarity is all the more noteworthy given the two Asian giants’ generally tenuous relationship, as well as previous fractiousness regarding which one should do more to combat global warming. However, at the climax of a four-day visit to China last week to discuss a wide range of bilateral environmental issues, India’s Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh felt upbeat enough […]

NEW DELHI — India’s defense procurement and modernization processes are infamously slow, and mired in red tape, corruption, and lack of long-term strategic planning. One prominent result has been the country’s unsuccessful quest to either procure aircraft carriers internationally or build them at home. The delays have forced India to refit its sole aircraft carrier — the 50-year-old INS Viraat, which according to earlier plans should have been junked by now — to operate for five more years, by which time India hopes to have procured more. The irony is that, over time, Viraat’s air fleet has also been substantially […]