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February 13, 2016

Security Council Reforms: Chasing up a mirage of veto power ?

Filed under: India,World — Geekay @ 4:11 am
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Over the years , the Veto power has become a status symbol. Not been able to have it has become a problem and given rise to frustration unnecessarily for certain countries. The G4 nations comprising BrazilGermanyIndia, and Japan are four countries which support each other’s bids for permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council. Unlike the G7, where the common denominator is the economy and long-term political motives, the G4’s primary aim is the permanent member seats on the Security Council.


Security council ‘s permanent membership provides veto power. The veto power enables all the countries not to bypass the voice of the veto powered country exercising its veto on any vote. When Veto powers were given after second world war,  UK, France and   China also got vetoes. Though Veto should have been  denied to  all these three as France had somehow re-emerged as an independent country post its capture in the war. Let alone be the big power in its own right. The argument to give veto power to UK was also marginal, specially, neither after war, it was left as a significant big power militarily, nor it was economically strong any more. Similarly, like France and UK, China also should not have been given any veto power  as it too was a dirt poor country and not militarily strong at all. The veto power given to China, in fact ended up going to Taiwan soon as the republic of China whom veto power was given got driven out from its own country. So, one wonders what justification was there to hand over Veto power to  a country who was inherently so week that  it could not manage its own fate. Mainland communist China got Veto in ’71 when Taiwan ‘s veto was handed over to it but by then Communist block had got divided . Perhaps, it would have been better if at the time of UN formation there should have been created only two veto wielding powers  – USA and Soviet Union rather than 5. It should have been called the group veto powers  – Capitalist block veto, Communist block veto as for all purposes the veto exercising history went according to the block’s desires .

But, as no body surrenders power once they have it, so even though the nation (UK and France) may no longer be the front runners either in military power or economy, but they  will still want to hold onto their permanent membership and Veto Power forever even if they become more and more integrated or subsumed into NATO or EU. Being part of these groups will make them irrelevant as it will not allow them any freedom to pursue their own independent line to exercise veto. They can  only toe a group line on any significant international issue. So, here again, it makes one wonder why veto power should only be given to states and not to the group when for all purposes the veto is exercised by states as per the group ‘s dictates.

Now, Russia and China are both power houses in military and economy respectively and they are no longer part of  one block. Though, back again now on most critical occasions either they act in unison or ignore the situation so they should continue to hold onto their individual veto power as they have not forged a military alliance. Even though both Germany and Japan are also economically very -2 important at present but as both are not free to pursue their own independent line, so giving them a  veto power will be a waste.

The other significant country is India which has been rising significantly. It stands at 7th position GDP wise in 2015 and 3rd on PPP basis as can be seen here in this chart –


It also is not having any military alliance and  for all purposes, it pursues independent foreign policy. So, it is far more deserving than other candidates. There are many negative things about security council permanent position. First of all, it brings extra responsibility to deal with more and more international issues as the issues are becoming day by day more of global nature needing global solutions. Since, India has great number of issues at home to deal with,  perhaps it should give up pursuing to seek Veto Power for now.

The Security Council membership will bring the need of providing for extra funding too to UN Budget. India contributes just 0.5% to say 10% by Japan and little over 5% by China. This is how the funding situation was in 2013 –

Member state Contribution
(% of UN budget)
 United States








 United Kingdom




But the most important issue will be if India who usually does not take any stand at all on any issue, will have to start taking a stand after getting the veto power. But taking a stand means preparing to ruin your relationships as independent middle line stand will not be possible any more. Perhaps,  India is besotted to covet the Veto power for enhancing its reputation as a significant power otherwise benefits are not there for chasing it.

Being a non-aligned group’s leading voice in cold war era, when its voice was equi-distant on all international issues in the beginning of non-aligned movement and gradually fully become part and parcel of a pseudo member voice of Communist block led by Soviet Union. So, it chose either not to criticise Soviet Union, or criticise much too late otherwise only privately. This happened  when Communists occupation went into Hungary, Czechoslovakia or Afghanistan. But, American, Britain/France interventions were criticised far more vocally as it happened in Cuba, other parts of Latin America or Suez Canal occupation etc. Though, India now has drawn closer to USA but it has not abandoned Russia entirely. It is closer to both Iran and Israel as well as Saudi Arabia. It is also close to Japan but chances of it voting against China in Security Council are remote as  China has become its biggest trading partner. So, what role a veto given to India will bring to UN. One can surmise it will bring nothing at all. When Russia is involved anywhere, India offers only a muted reaction as it did in Syria, Ukraine, Crimea or Georgia. It remained taciturn when Turkey downed Russian plane because India also have somewhat OK relations with Turkey, a NATO country. In Middle east, both Palestine and Israel are close to India, so for all purposes being too close will prevent it to take any stand on Palestine. It did not act closer home too when Sri Lanka was exterminating Tamils in its north. The  fear was of Sri Lanka falling into the hands of China and Pakistan. It did  not ask or support demand for UN probe initially into the killing of Tamils while UK and west asked  UN team to investigate. It did not upset the Myanmar too by criticising or intervening when it was clear the Buddhists with the support of Myanmar military were burning down the houses of Rohingya Muslims, killing them or putting them adrift in boats with some food. Again the fear was same of losing the Myanmar to China. Then Maldives exploded, its elected president is incarcerated and the new one has taken control. India tried to convey its support for the incarcerated president but Maldives simply chose to ignore India’s stand. Even though, China is so far out in pacific but India chose  not  to press Maldives too for the fear of China getting a toehold in Maldives, which any way China still managed to get. So, when India can not decide on foreign policy issues with either clarity or strong authority at closer home or in distant lands, what point is there to covet a veto power. However, Pakistan and China oppose India to have Veto Power as if India will go into Pakistan straight away after getting the Veto power to free Baluchistan’s trapped people. The fact is India should not get the veto power for its own sake as until it becomes economically significant and able to resolve its internal problems, it will not push its stand on any issue anywhere strongly outside India. To push your stand one will need a far significant economy, content citizens  and a big military might behind and not merely the veto power.  Moreover, by having veto power, the focus would quickly move to international diplomacy from internally focussed development of the country. So rather than rising fast, it will lose its focus of growing rapidly. There will surely come a time when India will be a Veto Power inevitably but that time is still years away, perhaps a decade or so.


December 15, 2015

The Global Jihad Factories operating nonchalantly and Mr Trump on the horizon

Filed under: Faith,World — Geekay @ 2:59 am
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There are two topics at present in the news – terrorism and climate change. Both are global and need global answers. Climate debate has been settled into a deal in Paris. The other is very long term and stays undefined for its reasons, let alone being addressed. Even to  associate a religious ideology to terrorism is like inviting oneself to be labelled as bigot. If the religion is named as Islam then straight away, one is referred as Islamophobe (refer here to another article on this topic). Liberty and privacy is all but dead thanks to terrorism except for perhaps tech savvy people.EiffelTowers

It is no secret that most terror incidents are coming from Islam related radicalised individuals. Even though, the concerted effort by Russia and west against ISIS is addressing the leaking wound of terrorism. But the fight is not just there. It is everywhere. Even if ISIS is eliminated, it will not be a surprise if it emerges elsewhere soon after. The funds available to terrorists are from many sources. The breeding ground are many – some countries, Madrassas or even some mosques.

Anyway, the question is – will more people like Mr Trump not offer the same solution of disallowing Muslims in their respective country in west. There is bound to be reaction in west and it will become more and more right wing. Hope, it stays close to centre and does not bring extreme right to the power anywhere. But to gradually move towards this ideal solution, the public needs to see that politicians are not clueless and do not keep behaving as if nothing has changed or behaving like liberals winking and allowing anything anywhere as it may alienate the minorities. Issue is if the problems itself are not accepted as existing then there can be no solutions either.

Edward Snowden is still not back in US after revealing that US has accessed, stored or hoovered in virtually all that goes on the net. It is not been denied by US emphatically. So, clearly there are no privacy issues raised when the govts access any individual. The issue is, however, if the civil liberty or public is able to acquiesce to govt accessing virtually anything then one wonder why would it be concerned if all religious, communal places, community centres are also monitored 24X7 by the govt or perhaps all these places are brought under a law that videos of all the activities should be recorded, kept for a month and should be made available for police viewing whenever it may so desire to access it. At least, if that happens, the lacuna that is left unmonitored for checking any insidious activity will then be filled.


Yet another thing is that countries will gradually move towards formalising same sort of civil code for all communities. So, religious freedom held dear by many religions to wear their religious symbols in public will gradually cease. A state, Hesse had banned Burqa in Germany in 2011. Now, one of German party called CDU is asking for a full ban there following the bans imposed in France, Holland, Italy. There will be similar pressure now built on any other govts to impose this ban not just on Islam followers but on all other religion followers too including Sikhs who are required by their religion to wear turban and a steel metal wrist piece. I am assuming both of these will have to be banned as well not much longer there after.

The education also brings new issues. even though one may think that the Madrassas are not running in west but these are running as they are  in eastern part of the world.   Education in UK is not fully state controlled and there are complete religion controlled educational entities running outside state control. Here  is  a newspaper article  after Mr David Cameron speech on Madrassas . In this article, a Muslim can be seen defending madrassas and perhaps trying to say, please do not inspect us but collaborate with us whatever it may mean. The Article says “Muslims fundamentally want to counter the ‘poisonous narrative’ of radicalisation, so why not collaborate with them? “ The madrassas should on their own be teaching multi-faith education and keeping their pupils more prepared for modern education and morals. There are many a madrassas in India which are not teaching main stream education too, but there was news recently on India Today of a madrassa of Mandsaur District, MP (india) which is introducing Hindu religion to Muslim kids like Gayatri Mantra etc. Who would not wish that UK madrassas may also one day emulate this policy of bringing home the education of majority religion of Britain which is Christianity. There is a nice article here on Madrassa education in India. At higher levels, in London there are some campuses where it is hard to escape Muslim brotherhood or other gangs.

The Issue however is – no matter how much the govt monitors any religious place or educational place, the monitoring will not achieve much as people will take their activity elsewhere. Only it will end up alienating people. Perhaps, it is time to use the public itself. May be people can anonymously report issues in which govt may be interested.

February 11, 2012

Anternaad ( Inner Voice) of Democracy

Filed under: Democracy — Geekay @ 10:12 pm
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Today, I was tuned to a discussion of Margret Thatcher on BBC Radio 5. There was a woman saying that she was opposing the screening of the movie in UK. On asking why – she said – I believed I was living in Democracy until the mines I worked with were closed down by Margret Thatcher. We were chased  by the army pretending to be police with baton in their hands. All we wanted was a democratic protest but this was not allowed. So, can one tell if this country(UK) has a democracy. The radio presenter found himself miffed and he started asking back -“So which country do you think the people have a proper democracy?” The conversation ended when the woman said – “Perhaps no country does but why should one pretend to say this country has  democracy when it does not”.

This conversation and after hearing more and more  news of strangled Arab Spring in Syria, I was reflecting on democracy. It is pretty clear that everybody wants democracy around the globe but what type of democracy do we all want. Some Chinese, I communicated with recently thought that democracy is coming to China as even independent people can stand in local elections and may even go to politburo. I said, “Indeed it is good and that positive experience of Hong Kong and Taiwan will bring some changes too”. I also thought of Arab Spring victories in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. But, the democracy in these countries is not taking root. It seems the people are incapable of forming the right policies or parties, institutions etc. No wonder that Democracy has not taken root in most of the Africa, Latin America, parts of Asia. Democracy is not easy and it takes very long while for a  slick democratic setup to emerge as it has in the west but there also people remain disgruntled like that woman on radio 5. However, it is heartening to know that in Egypt at least  National Democratic Institute (NDI)  and International Republican Institute (IRI) have been working and advising the people. Perhaps they will succeed. As these two are US funded groups, it will be assumed by most countries that US will be beneficiary of good relations, if democracy takes root there. Perhaps, this is the reason that Russia and China vetoed on the issue of Syria so that US influence does not also go in the Syria as well. So, how should the world stop this bigger game going on between countries while the conflicts continuously taking lives. Of course, we have not learned from Bosnia, Kosovo, Sudan etc. I think many democratic countries under the auspices of UN should have another body which can help a new  or young democracy. The countries need guidance on electioneering, party funding, policy making by bringing transparency and eliminating corruption in procurement and expenditure. If such a body can have corps like NDI and IRI above, it will be brilliant. Many other countries can join such a body. Perhaps, such a body can eliminate the suspicion that only one or two countries will benefit by developing the good relations with the beneficiary country. Also, perhaps, it can stop the killing. Though, Syria issue would still remain out of its remit as this body’s remit could only be after the dust has settled somewhat. In Syria, the endgame is far away as UN does not have a mandate for stopping the killing so long there are Vetoes and no consensus on talks or a terminal fight.

December 20, 2011

Stuttering Growth and Suspended FDI in Retail

Filed under: India — Geekay @ 10:56 am
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The word “Growth” is very alluring everywhere in the world economy. For the sake of growth, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown in UK, did not want to put much regulation in place for banks and financial institutions just like in US and  in most countries in Europe, this lack of regulation was prevalent. In Indian context, the growth is linked with FDI in retail.  Though, it is true that FDI spurs the economic growth . But can any FDI be good?  For India, lately FDI in retail is seen needed as the decision making machinery of govt is on standstill. So, FDI in retail is seen much more than any normal FDI inflows could have been seen as it would have allowed to mask the govt inertia on policies. The growth of Indian economy is now faltering due to number of interest rate hikes which were seen necessary  to combat rampant inflation of almost 12%. Unfortunately, it has coincided with malaise elsewhere like corruption agitations in India and Euro crisis. So, instead of having FDI inflow, the foreign currency outflow is taking place and as a result  rupee is falling in spite of growing interest rates. Let us examine if FDI in retail is indeed growth promoting? One can understand that growth will definitely take place due to some FDI inflow but as this FDI in retail, will also destroy the middle level retail and wholesale businesses, a part of the economy will be destroyed too ? It means that net result could be zero towards the overall GDP improvement. The experience from last few years when FDI came in sectors as Telecom, Real estate, Insurance suggests that today India just need one type of investment i.e. FDI in infrastructure  be that in roads, railways or power plants and definitely not in retail. The argument offered by Rahul Gandhi for electioneering in UP is that farmers will get many times more for their produce than what they are getting now and most of wastage will disappear from the country.  Are these things true? Let us see.

First, the farmers will not get paid any higher price unless the contract between them and  big foreign retailers like Walmart, Tesco etc  start giving them higher price. Has anybody seen someone willing to pay higher price for anything if that person can get it cheaper. The only way farmers can get higher price is when they offer best quality pieces of their produce to these big retailers and their rest of the produce will have to be sold either  to small retailers or destroyed altogether as there is also an intention to eliminate the middle men meaning there won’t be any secondary market left for the slightly inferior looking produce at all . Thus such product will end up as in all probability a cattle fodder or garbage for composting and rotting just as they are doing now. I can not also see how this move will thus help in bringing down inflation which is claimed as one of the reason for FDI in retail. With time, the cost of fertilizers is not going to go down when petroleum prices are always going up. The cost of other inputs for farmer like electricity, seeds, labour cost will only go up and not down. So, it seems strange that the  farmers can be so gullible to be put in delusion by Congress and their cohorts about FDI in retail that it  will benefit them by offering higher prices by new mega retailers. Usually, the big retailers practice has been in all  countries where they operate to squeeze all their suppliers including farmers, so that their (retailers) margins improve and bigger they are, bigger their voices are in negotiating contract prices with any supplier. They also have big voice within govt. It means influencing govt regulation and import export regime.

Second, let use see about the investment turning up to enhance the cold storage and distribution centres capacity across the country.  Given that road and rail network capacity is not going up and is already not great in the country and so any improvement is this area will remain a big illusion. Another point to highlight in this regard is the need to boost the electricity production as adding a cold storages will mean the need for extra electricity supply. But has the govt of India have any surplus capacity anywhere in electricity supply? I do not think so. Therefore, a FDI in power generation is needed before seeking the cold storage capacity enhancement. Unless the FDI Bill specifically requires it for allowing 51% stake in such retails stores, nobody will add these cold storage capacities when an electricity constraint exists. Better policy would have been to give incentives  to existing wholesalers to create such a capacity, if at all such a capacity addition is made by anyone.

One  of the two bad things about FDI in retail is that it will eat away a big layer of middle men. It may sound good from a section that says that saving will be passed onto farmers and the delay between supplier and retailers will vanish. By doing so,  I can not see the bulging pockets of farmers or absence of  rotting vegetables and fruits.  A lot of reforms are needed for enabling to eliminate rotting.  Given that  new mega stores can only be out of towns unless the govt acquires inner town areas and clears them for building new stores. Which does not seem possible as the lack of parking in big cities is also due to this fact that the govt does not have any will for such inner city clearances.  Since, out of town stores means that almost all households should have their own transport which is not true for Indian households that means there is almost all the more need to retain the middlemen .As the middle men are all to be wiped out by this policy move.  So, it seems that India seems to be saying yes – it is OK to wipe out the middlemen and let us benefit foreign share holders in stead. If the govt prefers big retailers, then perhaps the banks in India can provide loans for mergers and acquisitions in retail industry and that can it usher in consolidation and build big local share holding rather than foreign equity holding. Of course that does not offer an instant fix of FDI inflow. I look at this in way that if India gets say FDI of $500 million in retail. It will keep paying in perpetuity a dividend of 51% on that $500 million. Also, the local retailers and local markets will be destroyed gradually as the big retailers take hold in the country. This investment can not improve the road or rail network or electricity production on whom the success of cold storage and distribution centres  really depends. Most of the retailers will start bringing more and more foreign products and thus increasing the trade deficit for India. Walmart and Tesco sell far more products from China, US, Europe. So, how much local goods will be replaced by foreign goods by these big retailers is another thing to worry about.

One feel great disappointment from Indian media as they always constantly toe the govt policy. Even though they are in private hands but it is such a shame they do not do basic analysis of anything because doing so would mean publishing something that will challenge the govt meaning inviting govt wrath on themselves.

December 1, 2011

FDI IN Retail – Should India go for it?

Filed under: India — Geekay @ 5:27 pm
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Indian govt should definitely abandon the current legislation of allowing 51% FDI. I reckon it was ill thought. I have seen the High Streets of UK being cleared out completely leaving only food business and pound shops for the rest of the public. Once a new store opens anywhere, the high street gets doomed. Once the Indians were thriving big time in news agents shops across UK. Almost all of those are gone and new generation has gone onto job ladder. Not that it is a bad thing by itself as it helps integration with locals by being in job but often the newsagents shops had been the starting points of big businesses. The Kirana shops may not be paying tax but their punishment can not be cessation of their right to exist. At least they are not asking govt of India to help them like Kingfisher recently sought and ended up with bank dole out. By this single, insensitive act, please add millions to be pushed under new poverty line, if that is what we are aiming for. Indian Media is also playing the govt game in all issues including the retail. Now, Konimozhi, the dear daughter of Karuna Nidhi (DMK chief) is out, so the DMK won’t go against govt. Once the nod is given across the country, there can’t be a rollback. The govt talks of jobs creation but do not talk of far more job losses. The FDI should have been debated in house and allowed in very rich areas only and not across all country in cities over a million population. It should have been seen working and its effect must have been examined first.

How Indian Media be Reformed

This is what I wrote in comments of one article on media in Outlook India magazine

Freedom Must Be Earned

The regulation should not come from govt but not also from press or broadcasters themselves, it should be organised by govt but not controlled by it. It should be based on something similar to Press Complaints Commission in UK but the model should be modified. PCC in UK has failed to contain the media controlling the lives of all citizens by snooping, hacking, blagging or eavesdropping on phones and also because the PCC chairman was the Rupert Murdoch’s guy Les Hinton. So if the local media regulate themselves, nothing will get regulated. The nominees on board and chairman of PCC like body should all come from different walks of life – like teaching, judiciary etc. It should be funded by media itself (some sort of levy or tax) and made independent of govt control on the lines of proposed Lokpal or election commission. The ownership of media should also be reformed. The licence system brings govt control. If at all it is required then, it should go from govt control and perhaps should come under this body and the shareholding of the media should be such that none of this should belong to industrialists because they can exploit leaership of the country with their control of media. So, if such channels exist today belonging to industrial houses they should be made to divest their shareholding.

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