INILive Pilot: Bin Laden’s killing and implications for India

A live, online interactive programme on strategic affairs, public policy and governance

Here’s the recording of today’s INILive pilot.

Update: Edited transcript of the initial remarks:

In today’s programme I will analyse the issues related to the killing of Osama bin Laden by US special forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan last week. I will also try to address some of your questions and comments. Today, you can interact with me over twitter, using the hashtag #inilive

Now, there can be very little doubt over whether the Pakistani military leadership, Generals Ashfaq Kayani and Shuja Pasha were aware of Osama bin Laden’s location. The ISI is competent enough for this. Usually, top leaders have “plausible deniability”, they can claim that they didn’t know what their organisations were up to. In this case, General Kayani was ISI chief at the time bin Laden supposedly moved to Abbottabad. His denials are not plausible.

But what about the operation to get bin Laden? What role might the Pakistani military have played here? There can be many explanations. Let’s talk about the three most interesting ones:

One, it was, as the Obama Adm claims, carried out unilaterally by the United States, without informing the Pakistanis. Two, it was orchestrated by the Pakistani military establishment as a card in the endgame of the war in Afghanistan. Three, and it was an outcome of an ongoing power struggle among various sections of the Pakistani military-jihadi complex. Continue reading INILive Pilot: Bin Laden’s killing and implications for India

The Filter Coffee – a new blog on The Indian National Interest

Perspectives on foreign policy, defence, strategic affairs and governance

Rohan Joshi joins us on INI with The Filter Coffee, a blog “dedicated to raising awareness of issues relating to foreign policy, defense, strategic affairs and governance so that India’s citizens can demand the accountability they deserve from their elected representatives on the pursuit of India’s national interests.”

Smell the coffee. Better still, sip it every day.

Goodbye Offstumped

An announcement

Many of you must be wondering about recent changes at Offstumped and INI.

With this note we want to communicate together on the road ahead.

While INI continues to be focused on being a non-partisan community of individuals committed to economic freedom, realism in international relations, an open society, a culture of tolerance and good governance, Offstumped has been unique in its effort to pursue this objective with a clear political focus and engagement in the political realm. These are two different paths, and both are essential to bring about the changes that we want to see.

Offstumped as a vehicle will continue to pursue its political focus as an independent vehicle while the INI platform will continue to retain its non-partisan character with a strong emphasis on increasing public awareness and education on strategic affairs and public policy.

Offstumped and INI share a common commitment towards India’s future, but will function as independent vehicles to be most effective in achieving our goals.

More details on Offstumped’s future plans can be found here.

Sunday Levity: Why did the chicken cross the road?

How some INI bloggers would respond to that great question

Pragmatic Euphony: The Army HQ is engaging in emotional blackmail by showing how even chickens are quitting the army. They are also spreading the canard that only chickens cross into civvy street.

Offstumped: It didn’t. The English language media has gotten it wrong. A Google search for “chicken and that side of the road” shows fewer hits than “chicken and this side of the road.”

Swaraj (blog undergoing maintenance): Chickens are free to go anywhere they like. If you want it to remain this side, then you need to embed a microchip with a smart card that entitles it to chickenfeed.

Polaris: The Obama administration’s policy towards chickens crossing the road in South Asia will have to change in the face of reality. If chickens have a safe-haven on the other side of the road, then it is the other side that needs to be the focus of Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon.

The Gold Standard: What do you expect? This side of Wall Street had all the banks. The chicken should exchange all its assets for gold, preferably physical gold.

Retributions: (Doesn’t write about it, claiming that this topic is suitable for “Streetcar”. Over at Streetcar he posts about how dumb womyn let even chicken escape)

The Acorn: If only the Indian foreign policy establishment shows some imagination, it would realise that the inevitable journey of the chicken is an opportunity to extend Indian power to the other side of the street, by exporting the Indian version of Chicken Biryani.

The Gold Standard – a new blog on The Indian National Interest

Perspectives on finance, economics and policy

V Anantha Nageswaran joins us on INI, with The Gold Standard, where he intends to “improve the information to noise ratio in the world of finance and economics while having some fun and learning in the process.” The blog will cover issues such as “if all currencies have some highly urgent reason to remain weak or be devalued, what happens? Who bears the brunt?”

Do make The Gold Standard a part of your regular reading. (And in case you haven’t done so already, subscribe to our combined RSS feed.)

Ideologies blowing about in journals

Independent opinion journals and their editorial orientation

Over at The Awkward Corner, Niranjan Rajadhyaksha pays tribute to Sachin Chaudhuri, founder of the Economic Weekly, the forerunner of the journal we now know as Economic & Political Weekly. That venerable institution turns sixty this year, and has undergone both a cosmetic facelift (and one hopes, one in terms of editorial orientation as well) in recent years. It is perhaps the only journal in the world that publishes scholarly papers by eminent members of the Planning Commission and letters to the editor by Naxalite noms de guerre.

Niranjan links to Ramchandra Guha’s 1999 essay on the history of independent opinion journals in India where Mr Guha writes “Verily could (the editors of Seminar and EPW) claim to have followed the Tagore-Gandhi mantra, thus modified: ‘I want the ideas and ideologies of all kinds of Indians to be blown about in my journal as freely as possible. But I refuse to let it be blown off its feet by any.'” That is a lofty objective, and it is arguable whether India’s independent opinion journals were able to avoid the ideological seduction of the socialism that was prevalent in those days.

At The Indian National Interest and Pragati we make no such claims of loftiness. We believe that the Indian republic presents the best hope for the well-being, prosperity and happiness (yogakshema) of all its people, and therefore, its survival and security is supremely important. We advocate economic freedom, realism in international affairs, an open society and a culture of tolerance. But Pragati and INI are both “products of independent minds, who—transcending ideological pigeonholes—are united in our determination to see a better future for our nation.”

Ideologies are important—bad ones can kill, and worse. So allowing all kinds of ideologies to be blown about sounds lofty, but there is hardly any virtue in sitting on the fence in matters of public policy. However, pigeonholing (the pressure to follow and yield to dogma) is dangerous, because it is the first stop on the road to fundamentalism, and public policy—not least in a country as diverse as India—cannot do without pragmatism. But pragmatism itself is rudderless without firm ideological grounding.

One reason I am personally hesitant to describe our political philosophy in a word or two is because doing so runs the risk of getting pigeonholed. I took the risk when in “liberal nationalism” I made an attempt to construct a coherent framework of where we stand. But I refuse to let it blow me off my feet *.