terror in delhi 10/29
Saturday, April 01, 2006
  We have moved!
We inform our readers to update their bookmarks to cynical-nerd.nationalinterest.in and the new RSS feed. This partly explains our lapse in our posts last week. Cheer up, we have been busy and at our usual self in the new site. Check out our latest take on the Candle Kissers, the jihadist neighbor and a worrying development in Sri Lanka. We thank The Acorn for having taken this initiative in creating The Indian National Interest portal. See you there! And no, this ain't an April Fools prank!!
 
Friday, March 24, 2006
  Bugger Me Dead!
Following our take on Dutch morality lessons on signing the NPT, now it is the time of the Australian Labour (via The Australian):
AUSTRALIAN uranium should be off-limits to any country refusing to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Kim Beazley will pledge tonight. Hardening his stance against uranium exports, the Opposition Leader will promise a future Labor government would strengthen safeguards with individual countries.
Well here is the thing Mr. Beazley, you are sitting safely down under the big nuclear umbrella of the United States under the ANZUS defense pact signed as early as 1951. Even to date, your own Ministry of Defence says that "Australia relies on the extended deterrence provided by US nuclear forces to deter the remote possibility of any nuclear attack on Australia". Well, when India asked for similar protection after the Chinese exploded their bomb in 1964 we were emphatically told 'no'. You might want to know why. We would like to remind you another thing from the past. Successive Australian governments allowed several nuclear tests by the United Kingdom as late as 1963. Even worse, the British did not divulge all the consequences of nuclear tests such as radioactive contamination when they negotiated. But then all the tests happened not in the Australian mainland but in small islands like Maralinga from where the Aboriginal inhabitants were chased away (yet again!). But many of them didn't want to leave their ancestral lands and stayed during the tests getting exposed to the toxic radioactive materials. Long after enduring the negative effects including cancer, they were compensated only in 1995. But the British carelessly left behind significant quantities of highly radioactive weapons-grade Plutonium, making parts of the islands uninhabitable for tens thousands of years. Mr. Beazley also apparently doesn't have anything to say about selling Uranium yellow cake to China - the #1 proliferator. We urge you to stop pretending to take a pseudo moral high-ground vis-a-vis us 'lesser' souls and engage in some serious diplomatic initiatives with India - whose partnership is essential to ensure maritime security west of the Malacca Straits in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
 
  Reciprocating Peace With Hate
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a speech today made a passionate offer of peace to Pakistan to the extent of praising General Musharraf's "bold" measures in tackling terror, the results of which we are yet to see. The "tactically brilliant" General has his own way of responding to this offer (via Reuters):
A faxed copy of a pamphlet in the local Urdu language dropped by the Pakistani military aircraft in Wana, South Waziristan, and Miranshah, in North Waziristan bordering Pakistan, is shown in Islamabad March 24, 2006. Pakistan's military airdropped pamphlets this week over towns in restive tribal regions near the Afghan border urging tribesmen to shun 'foreign terrorists', saying they were part of a Hindu and Jewish plot. the pamphlets, bearing the sign-off 'Well Wishers, Pakistan's Armed Forces'. Titled 'Warning', the pamphlets said the foreign militants were fighting against Pakistan in connivance with 'Jews and Hindus', a term that would play on traditional prejudices among the region's Muslim conservatives. 'They (foreign militants) not only pose a danger to our sovereignty, but are also creating troubles for our people,'
We would be surprised if this news makes it to the Indian mainstream media. Even worse, the drumbeats will start rolling from the Candle Kissers demanding yet another bus journey to Lahore to 'advance' the peace process which is apparently now 'irreversible'.
 
Thursday, March 23, 2006
  J&K Secession Watch
We don't usually take a serious note when nutcases like Syed Ahmed Bukhari who says "Talking about terrorist attack on the Sankat Mochan Mandir by the terrorists early this month, Bukhari said that this was a well planned conspiracy to defame the Muslims." See Pankaj's take on terrorist's real objectives. But this caught our attention
(via IANS):

Leaders of Muslim minority gathered here on Saturday to forge nationwide unity to fight for the community's rights, voicing support for the Kashmiri cause for the first time.

The 140 million Muslims in India constitute the largest minority in the Hindu-majority country. While the community has many common problems, it has generally kept away from the separatist conflict raging in Jammu and Kashmir since 1989.

Attending the meeting in the premises of the 17th-century Jama Masjid, the country's largest mosque, was Abdul Ghani Bhat of the Hurriyat Conference, the moderate wing of the separatist grouping in Jammu and Kashmir.

"Our main agenda includes Jammu and Kashmir" said Mr Zafaryab Jilani, the Lucknow-based convenor of the Babri Masjid Action Committee.

This is setting a dangerous precedent. By allying themselves with the so-called 'moderate' pro-Pakistan groups like Hurriyat, some Muslim groups are now openly advocating the secession of a Muslim-majority state from the Indian Union. Using their freedom of speech and rights guaranteed under the Indian Constitution, they are attempting to cause a great damage to the Indian democratic set-up itself. Talk of the wooden handle of an axe helping to chop down a tree. While we are on the subject, how come these worthies (and their media cronies) never talk about the displaced Kashmiri Pandits.

 
  Sycophant du jour
Via an unsigned Times of India article titled "Sonia: A bit of a Mahatma":
Two years after she declined to be the prime minister, Sonia Gandhi remains an enigma: a successful politician no doubt but one clearly different from the rest of the tribe in India. For the second time in less than two years, Gandhi, 59, caught everyone off guard as she resigned her Lok Sabha post after coming under political cloud and tried to recapture the moral high ground in an arena where power is seen as the only driving force. In that dramatic announcement she made at her 10 Janpath residence, the mother of two, born in Italy but now completely Indian at heart, proved once again that she is not and will never be another run of the mill politician. many now compare her with Indira Gandhi, her own slain mother-in-law-cum-prime-minister who was often known as one of the shrewdest beings Indian politics has ever produced. But far from leading a Congress-led coalition government, which she was widely expected to do, she renounced the job, saying she was listening to the voice of her conscience, and thereby gained a saintly halo round her that made many compare her to the greatest renunciate, Mahatma Gandhi, whom Indians revere as the Father of the Nation.
TOI has already hit rock bottom several times and yet digs further. While we don't bother much about party politics, TOI is parotting the same words as some of the sycophantic Congress party workers. Hey, whatever happened to freedom and independece of press? Guess, it is applied selectively.
 
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
  A Brief History of Indic Thalassocracy - 3/3

thal·as·soc·ra·cy - n., Naval or commercial supremacy on the seas.

Greek thalassokratiā : thalassa, sea + -kratiā, -cracy.

Indian Thalassocracy Part III - Post 5th century A.D.:

Part I here. Part II here.

A golden age of Indic maritime activity (525-650 A.D.) which witnessed the expansion of India and the spread of Indic thought and culture to the farther East Java, Cambodia, Burma, Siam, China and even Japan), was largely a South Indian enterprise in which the Andhras and the Cholas played a key role.

Bengal: In the time of Kalidasa, the people of Bengal appear to have been widely famous for their nautical resources, for in his Raghuvamsa the poet sings about harbors and dockyards had come into existence as early as the 6th century A.D. A copper-plate grant of Dharmaditya (dated 531 A.D.) refers to a navata-kseni or ship-building harbor. Kamarupa: The ancient kingdom of Kamarupa consisting of the Brahmaputra river valley and surrounding areas. King Bhaskaravarman (7th century A.D.) was in "possession of splendid ships" fought a naval battle with Mahasena Gupta on the waters of the Lohitya (Brahmaputra). The Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsiang (Xuanzang) who visited Kamarupa estimates that Bhaskaravarman’s fleet was large as 30,000 ships.

Chalukyas: Pulakeshi II (611 A.D. to 639 A.D.) was the most powerful ruler of the Chalukyan dynasty who led his forces in all the directions – land and sea. Pulakeshi’s principal naval expedition was directed against Puri, a great and wealthy city which prospered by its overseas trade and was famous as “the mistress of the Western sea”. The city of Puri has not been properly identified - some consider Puri as the Elephanta Island, others think it is the modern town of Gharpuri on the West coast of Gujarat. The most important fact is that it was the support of sea power which made Pulakeshi the master of the land.

The Peak of Chola Power:

According to Chakravarthi, “the impress that the people of the Tamil states have left on the naval history of the ancient Hindus is the deepest and most indelible”.

Under the Cholas, Indian naval power attained its culminating point. The great Chola king Rajaraja 1 (985 to 1014 A.D.) tried to take the Chera country under his control and took the key part of Quilon. He is also said to have attacked Maldives Islands and Sri Lanka. His son Rajendra Chola 1 (1014 to 1042 A.D.) knew the great importance of foreign trade and built a powerful navy meant for trade and war. Rajendra prepared a naval expedition against the Srivijaya empire, first taking Andaman and Nicobar Islands to serve as an advance base. The Chola fleet sailed on and took several coastal ports. This attack was only to break Srivijaya's commercial monopoly and not to occupy it permanently. He contained Arab competition by sending a naval expedition against Maldives to stop the Arabs from building and equipping merchant ships there.

His successor Virarajendra continued and strengthened the maritime tradition and made Tamil naval power invincible. Rajendra Chola's naval adventures covered the Nicobar Islands, the Malay peninsular and Sumatra. Under his rule, the Bay of Bengal and the eastern Indian Ocean became a “Chola lake”.

Conclusion:

While our posts obviously sing paeans to past Indic maritime achievements, sometime down the lane its power waned and almost became non-existent. While analyzing this decline can be left to serious military historians, it is evident that building and maintaining a strong navy was essential for guarding commercial and strategic interests. It is a lesson from the past which is still applicable to this date and even in the future. In a coming post, we intend to present the technological breakthroughs, strategic alignments and regional threats for the Indian Navy to become one of the big-leaguers and reclaim its historical role as the custodian of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) – from the Sea of Oman to the Straits of Malacca and we daresay even beyond.

-End of series-

References: Prithwis Chandra Chakravarti, “Naval Warfare in Ancient India”, The Indian Historical Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 4, 1930, p p. 645-664

O.K. Nambiar, “An Illusrated Maritine History of the Indian Ocean”, Excerpts available from the official Indian Navy website.

Paul Lunde, “The Indian Ocean and Global Trade”, Saudi Aramco World, July/August 2005

 
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
  A Brief History of Indic Thalassocracy - 2/3

thal·as·soc·ra·cy - n., Naval or commercial supremacy on the seas.

Greek thalassokratiā : thalassa, sea + -kratiā, -cracy.

Part I here.

Indian Thalassocracy Part II - From the 4th century B.C. to the 5th century A.D.:

The Mauryas and the Greeks:

The first known Greek book devoted entirely to India is from the late fifth century B.C., written by a Greek doctor named Ctesias, who served the Persian king Artaxerxes. Everything in it is hearsay, filtered through Persian sources. It would not be until the arrival of Alexander on the banks of Indus in 326 B.C. that we start getting a better picture.

According to the Greek ambassador Megasthenes appointed to the Mauryan court shortly after Alexander’s death, Chandragupta’s war-office was divided into six boards, of which the first was associated with the “Chief Naval Superintendent”. Kautilya's Arthasastra agrees with Megasthenes, in describing an official called Navadhyaksa or the “Superintendent of Ships”. Of the duties described in the Arthasastra, the Navadhyaksa had to see through that pirate ships were pursued and destroyed whenever they were found. The same regulation applied to ships and boats of an enemy's country when they violated their territorial limits.

After Chandragupta, his grandson Emperor Asoka maintained diplomatic relations not only with Sri Lanka but also with the Hellenistic monarchies of Syria, Egypt, Cyrene, Macedonia and Epirus which presupposes the existence of a “sea going fleet as well as an army”.

Greek trade with the peoples of the Red Sea coast and eventually with India strengthened under the Ptolemies, the dynasty that derived its name and foundation from one of Alexander's generals, who took power in 320 B.C. At Berenik, archeologists have discovered fragments of documents in 12 different languages, including Tamil and Prakrit, evidence that this Red Sea port was in touch with both southern and northern India.

The Andhras:

The decline of the Mauryas resulted in the ascent of the Andhra Satavahanas in the South. This Buddhist dynasty who ruled large portions of the Deccan between 200 B.C. to 200 A.D. The Satavahanas maintained a large fleet to rule over the Coromandel coast and fend off the pirates. A Ptolemic account mentions several important ports on the Andhra Coast between the mouth of the Ganges and the Godavari from where ships sailed to the East. Podouke (Pulicat, north of Chennai), Masulipatnam (in Andhra) and Melange (Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu) were a few of the important ports which exported spices, sandal, pearls, camphor and silk that was imported from the farther East. Chinese merchants had their warehouses at the mouth of river Krishna. After the Satavahanas, the Pallavas, who were originally from Andhra continued the seafaring tradition. It appears from a study of the Buddhist stupa found at Prome (in Myanmar) that Buddhism probably came to that country from Andhra. The cultural influence moved on further to the Malay peninsula with the creation of the Sri Vijaya dynasty (see Part III).

Early Tamils:

According to early Tamil Sangam literature, Poompuhar (or Kaveripoompattinam on the Kaveri river delta region) developed into a great port city of the early Chola kingdom only to be washed out by a tsunami later around 500 A.D. Writing in the 1st century B.C., Ptolemy noted about Poompuhar and another port town of Nagappattinam as the most important towns of the Cholas. These two towns became seats of trade and commerce with Greece, Egypt and the Far East and acted as a cosmopolitan center of learning.

In the first century B.C. 'King Pandiod' or the Tamil dynasty Pandyas is recorded to have sent two embassies to Augustus Caesar, desiring to become his friend and ally. One of these reached Augustus when he was at Terracona in the 18th year after the death of Julius Caesar, and another reached him six years later. The Tamil poet Madalan sang in praise the Chera king Cenkuttuvan who led an expedition to the Gangetic plain via an expedition to Orissa by sea.

The Romans:

We get a more clearer account during the Roman Age thanks to a Greek work by an unknown author written around 70 A.D. called The Periplus of Erythraean Sea. According to the Periplus, trade with India was booming at Barygaza (or Bharuch in present day Gujarat), Greek traders sold or exchanged Italian and Greek wine, copper, tin, lead, coral, cloth, glass, storax and antimony for ivory, bdellium gum, onyx, myrrh, woven and unwoven silk, “mallow cloth” and pepper.

In the 1st century A.D., Roman author Pliny complained that trade with India was threatening their economy “Affnd by the lowest reckoning India, China and the Arabian Peninsula take from our empire 100 million sesterces (about US $10 million now) every year - that is the sum which our luxuries and our women cost us,”

To be continued in Part III.

References: Prithwis Chandra Chakravarti, “Naval Warfare in Ancient India”, The Indian Historical Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 4, 1930, pp. 645-664

O.K. Nambiar, “An Illustrated Maritime History of the Indian Ocean”, Excerpts available from the official Indian Navy website

Paul Lunde, “The Indian Ocean and Global Trade”, Saudi Aramco World, July/August 2005

 
Monday, March 20, 2006
  Hollandse schijnheiligheid
Pardon our linguistic irreverance since the post title means 'Dutch hypocrisy'. Here is why (via IANS):
A group of influential Dutch MPs currently on a week-long visit to India Monday said they would prefer it if New Delhi signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

'We would still like India to sign the NPT. We do not know the details of the India-US (nuclear) pact and therefore can't comment on whether it contradicts provisions of the NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group),' said F.W. Weisglas, president of the House of Representatives.

Readers who have seen this video (higly recommended), may recall that the most infamous A.Q. Khan started his proliferation career while he worked in the Dutch uranium treatment company Urenco. The failure of the Dutch authorities to prevent Khan from stealing Uranium enrichment details is actually a violation of the NPT to which it is a signatory. Meanwhile, the German media has been all over the trial of one, Gotthard Lerch, a German citizen tightly linked with the Khan network throwing even more light on the Dutch and other perfidies.

via Deutsche Welle (article in English):

Gotthard Lerch, who goes on trial on Friday, was investigated extensively by German authorities in the 1980s for the misappropriation of blueprints at a joint British, German and Dutch uranium enrichment facility in the Netherlands. That was apparently also when he came into contact with Abdul Qadeer Khan. Lerch, however, was never convicted.

via Der Spiegel, see map of the Khan proliferation network with involvement of several European firms (The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland) all being signatories of the famed NPT. Quoting from the accompanying Spiegel article (in English):

Khan remained at Urenco until 1975, when he copied the company's most important plans and then fled to Pakistan to build the bomb for his country. However, in addition to being theoretically complex, uranium enrichment poses extremely difficult technical challenges -- especially for a scientist without access to a high-tech laboratory and working in a third-world country like Pakistan.

To solve his dilemma, Pakistan's nuclear spy set out on a search for suppliers. At Leybold Heraeus in the German city of Hanau, a global leader in vacuum technology, Khan found what he was looking for in a young engineer, Gotthard Lerch. Lerch soon attracted the attention of German export inspectors, who wanted to know what he was doing in Pakistan. He admitted that Leybold Heraeus had shipped valves, vacuum pumps and a gas purification system worth 1.3 million German marks to Pakistan. When Lerch left Leybold in 1985 and went to Switzerland, a similar know-how transfer took place. Lerch had hardly begun working for his new employer in Switzerland before a company began producing gas ultracentrifuges remarkably similar to those featured in construction blueprints at Leybold Heraeus. The centrifuges were destined for Khan's laboratory in Kahuta.

Even worse, the Dutch let go of Khan without prosecuting as early as 1975 upon the 'request' of the CIA who too were apparently interested on the case wanting to catch an even bigger fish. That fishing expedition never happened even after 1998 when Pakistan exploded its nuclear weapons. It was only when Khan's best customer, the Libyan dictator Muammar Khadafi having caught red-handed with weapons material spilled out everything he knew to the IAEA in 2003 that the world started taking notice of Khan. India has a strong case against the Netherlands and other European nations with an 'high' moral-standing for being a passive spectators during the entire nuclear saga resulting in Pakistan's 'beg, borrow or steal' nuclearization which drastically affected India's collective security. While India is not publicly raising any of these issues, it would be wise for the honorable Dutch MPs to likewise concentrate on bilateral trade and other issues of mutual interest. Related: The Acorn on NPT: Born with a fatal flaw. Maverick on the shocking silence of many of the the non-proliferation ayatollahs during the entire Khan episode.
 
  Spilling the beans ...
Following Gen. Musharraf's undiplomatic outburst against Afghan President Karzai last week, here is some plain speaking by the Afghan Foreign Minister Dr. Abdulla (via CNN transcripts ):
ABDULLAH: I should say that as far as the Taliban and the people of Afghanistan is concerned, the people have rejected the agenda of Taliban, and they have rejected it long before. When it comes to their activities, the main issue is that most of these activities are linked one way or another to what is happening in the other side of the border. It's there that we are working. We are talking with our neighboring country Pakistan. BLITZER: Do you have any idea where Osama bin Laden is? ABDULLAH: To the best of our intelligence, to the best of my knowledge, he is outside Afghanistan. And he might be in the same place where all those other members of Al Qaida have been arrested. So that's as far as I can say. BLITZER: You think both bin Laden and Zawahiri are in Pakistan? ABDULLAH: They are not in Afghanistan. I hope they will be able to find those people the same way that they have found all the other members of Al Qaida, in the same places. BLITZER: So you think all of them, all three of them are together or near each other in Pakistan? ABDULLAH: That's our intelligence, that they are among their friends. Their supporters are in Pakistan.
Somebody had to say it like it is. Like we noted earlier, every *real* Al-Queda leader arrested so far were from big Pakistani cities Islamabad, Rawalpindi and NOT from some mountain caves. For long Gen. Musharraf popped out mysterious Al-Queda No. 3 leaders without arresting a single Taliban leader. This will undoubtedly put more pressure to deliver the real goods - that is if the "tactically brilliant" General survives that long. Otherwise, the glorious mantle as 'The Savior of the Pure Land' will soon be passed to one of the "Corp Commanders". Update: This is getting interesting. Pakistan bans two Afghan TV channels.
 
Sunday, March 19, 2006
  A Brief History of Indic Thalassocracy - 1/3

thal·as·soc·ra·cy - n., Naval or commercial supremacy on the seas.

Greek thalassokratiā : thalassa, sea + -kratiā, -cracy.

We attempt to present some aspects of the Indic maritime history. This blogger accidentally fell upon some of these extraordinarily interesting information while researching on contemporary naval defense issues. We hope the readers too will find it absorbing. We are not an 'eminent' historian and so we make no guarantees on the veracity of the information nor on its completeness. We have simply compiled the information as per our comprehension in chronological order. Further references and links have been liberally provided for serious history buffs.

Indian Thalassocracy Part I - Ancient Period:

Indic maritime prowess was spread all over the coastal regions: from the Indus valley, the Saurashtras in the Gujarat coast, the Coromandel coast by the Tamil and Andhra kingdoms and in Bengal in the sea and the great rivers of Ganga and Brahmaputra. Long before the birth of Christ, there were several references in Jatakas (ancient Indian folk tales), Greek and Roman accounts, early Tamil poems and Pali texts with some supported by archaeological proof showing the navigation of skills of Indians in the rivers and the high sea. There were ports and harbors all along the Indian coastline such as Tamaralipti, Poompuhar, Bharukaccha and Surparaka.

Obviously there is very little solid archaeological evidence of the ancient period. But there are several references to maritime adventures of kings from sacred texts proving at least that the maritime instincts existed in popular imagination. There seem to be innumerable references in Sanskrit and Pali literature of men lost to the might of the high seas and of wrecked vessels.

The Rig Veda for example talks about King Tugra who commissioned his son Bhujyu on a naval expedition which was ship-wrecked on the ocean, “where there is no support, no rest for the foot or the hand”. He was subsequently rescued by the twin Asvins in their hundred-oared galley. The Baveru Jataka indicates “that the Vanijas of Western India undertook trading voyages to the shores of the Persian Gulf and of its rivers in the 5th, perhaps even in the 6th century B.C.”

Tamaralipti was a large port city in the kingdom of Vanga (Bengal). According to the Buddhist epic Mahavamsa, Prince Vijaya Simha was banished from Vanga and took off from Tamaralipti with a large fleet to land in Sri Lanka in the 5th century B.C. Hence the name Simhala is derived from the Simha dynasty which he created there. An Ajanta painting depicts the scene of the landing of Vijaya in Sri Lanka with his army we see a fleet of large ships with many passengers, elephants and horses.

Indus valley and Initial Greek Contacts:

The port of Bharukaccha is referenced in ancient Pali texts of Jain and Buddhist accounts as part of the historic trade route of Kamboja-Dvaravati between Dwarka and Kamboja Mahajanapada located in north-eastern Afghanistan is supposed to belong to the Indus Valley period.

Even before Alexander's arrival on the banks of Indus, there were accounts about the people of the Indus basin indulging in the practice of piracy on the high seas. Many such accounts were told by the Persians to the Greek envoys to the then Persian Empire. Such accounts tend to freely mix facts with fiction with tales about India consisting of beast-headed human creatures and people living for 200 years. This was skeptically expressed by Strabo, the Greek geographer, who published the earlier accounts in his great compilation in 7 B.C.

The Indus people, per Strabo were the ‘Vikings’ of ancient India, and the great Persian monarchy was the worst sufferer from their depredations. Strabo and Arrian (another Greek historian) add that in order to protect their cities against piratical attacks, the Persians made the Tigris entirely inaccessible to navigation.

Ironically, Strabo also describes India as “the greatest of all nations and the happiest in lot”. One might wonder why would a ‘great’ and ‘happy’ set of people terrorize the Persians. Of course, for the Greeks at that time anything to their East means India, so some of the reference could also have meant also East African or Arabian pirates. We will get a much clearer after the eventual the arrival of Alexander

To be continued in Part II.

References: Prithwis Chandra Chakravarti, “Naval Warfare in Ancient India”, The Indian Historical Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 4, 1930, pp. 645-664

O.K. Nambiar, “An Illusrated Maritine History of the Indian Ocean”, Excerpts available from the official Indian Navy website.

Paul Lunde, “The Indian Ocean and Global Trade”, Saudi Aramco World, July/August 2005

 
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