Indo-French bilateral partnership: New approach

By K.N. Pandita

Prime Minister Modi visited France soon after Emmanuel Macron’s election in May 2016. Prior to him three Indian Prime Ministers had visited France since 1980. Not all formal visits of the heads of government move beyond the established protocol and patent rhetoric.

A Rs. 59.000 crore Rafael fighter aircraft deal with France is good enough to make France cosy with New Delhi more so when the second instalment of 35 aircrafts is still in the pope lime. But there is more than Rafael that meets the eye.

Foremost is the common security concern focused on India-Pacific life-line or what may be called new Indian Ocean Strategy? Commentators ask whether it will be the harbinger of graduating Quad-4 to Quad-5. This could the aspect of future shape of Indian Ocean security scenario provided the US and France are able to undo irritants in the context of Paris Accord. Access to each other’s oceanic basis and facilities is what is of significance.

India-France cooperation has to be analysed in the background of broad dimensions of China’s eco-political strategy in the Asian Continent with access to strategic Sri Lankan port of Hambantota, Gwadar and to African horn. Of late China has made a foothold in Maldives.

China’s stealthy intrusion into the Indian Ocean region is not meant only to monitor Indian maritime prowess but it looks into the eyeball of world trading nations that must have safe and hassle-free route through the Straits of Malacca right up to Far East. After monopolizing China Sea, Beijing has spread out its fangs to strategically crucial Gulf.

A significant development of recent days is Iranian foreign minister disclosing in Pakistan that Iran has invited both China and Pakistan to become participants in Chahbahar enterprise. Earlier also, Iranian President had hinted at it but the media did not take full notice. This is how China has been exerting benign pressure on Iran. Hopefully this dimension of India-Pacific Strategy has not been missed during bilateral parleys with France. French military bases in Djibouti, Abu Dhabi and Reunion Islands can be a force multiplayer for India, which itself is looking to build naval facilities in Seychelles, Mauritius and Oman.

India and France are not pursuing the conventional military alliance or defence pact strategy of cold war era but its modernized version of strategic autonomy. It is dilution of military alliance and takes into account a broad paradigm of how without giving provocation to any regional or global power security of trading channels can be maintained.

Another significance of Indo-French partnership and strategic autonomy is that of filling the void which has appeared after Russia cooling towards India and warming up to China. In consequence of expectation of CPEC to become beneficial to Central Asia at a later stage, Moscow has new thinking on her relations with Pakistan as well. This renewed thinking is boosted by widening of gap in US-Pakistan relations particularly in the context of Afghan fighting. . Russia warms up to Pakistan for its anti-US and anti-India role in Afghanistan though she is not likely to get bogged in the same morass in which the US had chosen to fall in the light of Mujahedeen war. We don’t think that Afghan resistance forces will receive anything beyond lip service from the Russians.

The question is whether France is going to fill the gap that now exists between India and Russia. The character of Indo-French relationship is likely to be on very different lines. Make in India will be the guiding hand for any facet of Indo-French cooperation especially in the case of upgrading India’s air and naval power that need much boosting. Strategic autonomy essentially means leaving space for India to develop its defence requirements indigenously but with full cooperation in necessary areas.

In terms of addressing infrastructural requirements for indigenization of defence production, important steps have been taken. First is the area of energy with two components viz. six nuclear reactors to be built in Jaitpur, and secondly the mega solar energy harnessing project for which France has made additional 7000 million Euro commitment.

President Macron co-chaired the International Solar Alliance (ISA) with Modi during his visit, and the two leaders also inaugurated a solar power plant at Dadar Kala village in Uttar Pradesh.

The high watermark of President Macron’s visit is a major Indo-French initiative with around 56 countries having signed the ISA Framework Agreement and 26 nations having already ratified it. This can be visualized as major breakthrough in Indi’s energy problem and once this is attained, the path for foolproof internal as well as external security will be laid.

The fruitful visit of the French President raises chances for India to find more support from world community about her rightful place in the NSG and the membership of Security Council also. Franc’s interest and perception of India in the context of global strategy at a time when Europe is divided by petty quarrels among its members will not be without impact on the European countries. It will be noted that talks between the two leaders and the press releases from both sides do not give more than necessary significance to the subject of terrorism. There is a casual reference to it in their talks. This is the first time that India has scaled down prioritization of terrorism in her talks with the head of the government of a country that has borne the brunt of Islamic extremism more than any other European country has.

Politics of vandalizing statues

By K.N. Pandta

Installing statues of distinguished persons is an old practice beginning with the ancient Greeks. From there it spread to Europe. There is no desk-book criterion for identifying a person whose statue is raised.

Two statues of Lenin were struck down in Tripura soon after the election result was announced and BJP was declared successful. Of course, it was an exciting moment for BJP to have ousted the long entrenched Leftist party government in the State. Continue Reading…

The US and Pak-based terrorists

By K.N. Pandita

The US is showing no relent in its reproach of Pakistan for allowing safe haven to terrorists – individuals as well as organizations – operating in Afghanistan. There are many individuals involved in raising and transferring funds, and providing logistic support to terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, Taliban and LeT that are either based or have their hideouts in Pakistani. Pakistan army and intelligence circles including some senior bureaucrats are well aware of these antics. At the end of the day elusive Osama bin Laden was captured in a house just few kilometres away from the GHQ in Rawalpindi. Continue Reading…

Ghazavatu’l-Hind: A Matter of Faith

By K.N. Pandita

These days, top leadership of Pakistani religious extremist organizations like Jaysh-i-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, Tahiru’l Qadiri and others has become vociferous about Ghazavatu’l-Hind meaning the Indian crusade. They whip up anti-India hysteria while addressing huge crowds. The common theme of their claptrap is that the way of liberating Kashmir is through an armed crusade of India. Destruction of India is their war cry. Continue Reading…

The roots of Afghan war

By K.N. Pandita

A US official spokesman said that the Saturday devastating attack in the centre of Kabul city was planned and executed by Taliban and the Huqqani Network. 103 people were killed and hundreds wounded. A UN observer called it” massacre”. Taliban and Haqqani Network have intensified attacks and bomb blasts in recent weeks and months in Afghanistan. Continue Reading…

South Asia: Re-alignments on the anvil

By K.N. Pandita

In bilateral relations, there are no permanent friends or foes: there are only permanent interests. US-Pakistan relations almost reached nadir when President Trump; twitted “lies and deceit”. Nobody had anticipated that relations between Pakistan – a country once more aligned than allies – with the US would sink to such depths. Continue Reading…

Trump–Pakistan jihad love

By K.N. Pandita

The news has come that Pakistan has imposed a ban on Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud Dawa and Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation from collecting donations. Pakistani media have given wide publicity to this news in print and in electronic media. Since some years the organization and its chief have been actively collecting donations in the name of ‘crush India.’ Continue Reading…

Trump’s new security strategy

By K.N. Pandita

Addressing his nation from the Ronald Reagan building in Washington, President Donald Trump has enunciated his administration’s new national security strategy. The strategy paper identifies four vital national interests, or “four pillars” namely (a) Protect the homeland, the American people, and American way of life; (b) Promote American prosperity; (c) Preserve peace through strength; and (d) Advance American influence. Continue Reading…

Cannibal of Mumbai carnage walks free

By K.N. Pandita

Acquittal of Hafiz Saeed by Lahore High Court is a slap on the face of the US and the UN. They have classified Saeed’s organization JuD as a terrorist group and forefront organization for terrorist outfit LeT responsible for 26/11 Mumbai attack in which 166 innocent persons including six American nationals were killed. Continue Reading…

How much neutral is Switzerland?

By K.N. Pandita

Around the year 2000, I was in Switzerland working with an African NGO at the Human Rights Council (then it was called Commission). A story was making rounds in the town that some WW II German Jewish refugees had claimed that their close relatives had deposited certain amounts of money in Swiss banks which should be returned to them. Continue Reading…

Iran-US relations: the nuclear spat

By K.N. Pandita

The US and North Korea are on the verge of nuclear clash. By implication, Iran also figures in the imbroglio. But why and how, let us see. Continue Reading…

Pakistan: Compulsions for Realigning Regional Strategy

By K.N. Pandita

Pak watchers have noted a flurry of events taking place in succession during a couple of weeks in recent past at GHQ with drop scene in Washington. While GHQ is mulling realignment in Trump era, Pakistan foreign office is in hectic activity at Washington to do some damage controlling exercise. These events need to be examined along with their hindsight. Continue Reading…

Change of guard on subcontinent

By K.N. Pandita

US Defence Secretary James Mattis recently met with his Indian counterpart, Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi. Two subjects took precedence over a variety of items on their agenda for talks. These were (a) meeting the challenge of global terror and (b) strategic defence partnership. Continue Reading…

PM reshuffles his ministerial team

By K.N. Pandita

For the first time ever since Narendra Modi formed NDA government in 2014, a major reshuffle has been made in the ministerial team. Continue Reading…

Jadhav albatross in Pak army’s neck

By K.N. Pandita

Pakistan was over confident of its safe passage at The Hague. Therefore the unanimous ruling that laid bare its Jadhav conspiracy came as a rude shock. Continue Reading…

President Pranab Mukherjee presents Padma Awards

President Pranab Mukherjee presents Padma Awards, 27.22 min, uploaded by DD News, April 13, 2017.

Excelsior columnist Dr. Pandita gets Padma Shri

Published on Daily Excelsior, Jan 26, 2017:

.70p K.N. Pandita, Daily Excelsior.

Correspondent – JAMMU, Jan 25: Eminent Scholar of the State, a veteran columnist associated with Daily Excelsior a leading newspaper of J&K State and a dedicated social activist, Dr Kashi Nath Pandita is among the 75 noted personalities of the country who were conferred with Padma Shri Award one of the highest civilian awards of the country on the eve of 68th Republic Day. Continue Reading…

Demonetization – a national priority

By K.N. Pandita

The fracas created by the opposition on demonetization issue shows that it has failed to show due respect to the verdict of the majority of people in this country. It has also to learn that sitting in the opposition does not absolve the opposition of becoming realists about the development of the country. Continue Reading…

Ethnic cleansing in Bangladesh

By K.N. Pandita

In its editorial of November 16, 2016, The Washington Post carried the story of brutal attacks in Bangladesh killing scores of bloggers, foreigners and members of Hindu religious minorities. A Hindu tailor was killed in April, and a Hindu priest was hacked to death in July last. Over almost two years, radical Islamists have carried out a string of brutal attacks on Hindu minority. July attack in Dhaka left 22 Hindus dead. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her governing Awami League accused Islamist opposition of fomenting terrorism. However, involvement of some leaders of the ruling party is not ruled out. Continue Reading…

Surgical strike on black money

By K.N. Pandita

Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav calls PM’s ‘operation black money’ as election stunt. Kejriwal calls it “big scam”. Rahul Gandhi stands in queue to change his Rs. 500 note, and the mercenary media gives it TV hype. During Vajpayee regime, American Enforcement functionaries had detained Rahul at JF Kennedy airport with one lakh US Dollar notes in his baggage. Vajpayee intervened. Modi’s adversaries had begun lampooning his election slogan of eradicating corruption from administration. Continue Reading…