Sunday, 27 July 2014

Brigadier Thapar, this is not Pakistan (Sunday Guardian)

M.D Nalapat is the Editorial Director of The Sunday Guardian.

ince Field Marshal Ayub Khan ousted President Iskander Mirza in a coup in 1958, the Pakistan army has considered itself off-limits to any criticism by the media. Decades of invulnerability to public scrutiny have made the army in India's western neighbour the principal reason why Pakistan is becoming a failed state. Fortunately for India, this country has remained a democracy (except for 1975-77, when the Emergency was in force), which has meant that the media could and often did turn the spotlight on individuals and institutions. Unlike in the case of Pakistan, the army in India is not immune from media attention and even blame, which was why it was a surprise when this columnist was shown a letter dated 16 July 2014 by a Brigadier Thapar, addressed not to the Editor of The Sunday Guardian but to the Managing Director himself.
Thapar, who is billed on the sheet of notepaper sent by him as being the "Addl Dte Gen of Pub Info" (whatever that means), insinuated that the Indian Army, no less, will begin "further action to ensure suitable recourse" against the newspaper. As the brigadier was referring to a report written by this columnist in the 14 June copy of The Sunday Guardian, and this being India, where legal proceedings can drain both finances as well as peace of mind for decades, it is likely that such is the "suitable recourse" being contemplated against this columnist. Clearly, such minor matters as freedom of the press do not need to enter into such a calculus.
This columnist has always been a booster of the Indian Army, including during the times when it was battling insurgencies in the Punjab and Kashmir, and counts several retired and serving officers as his personal friends. Hence it came as a surprise to be informed in the letter that he was guilty of "highly damaging" the army. More, that he "interacted with drug peddlers" and that, in a final flourish of hyperbole, he contravened, and execrably so, "recognized ethical canons of journalistic ethos and conventions". What was this traitorous act for which this columnist is being excoriated?
For warning in The Sunday Guardian report that the ISI (through the narcotics lobby) was seeking to create pools of influence within the uniformed services, and that the latter ought to be vigilant in identifying possible bad apples who may be tempted by the blandishments offered by that organisation and its network of drug runners. Were GHQ in Rawalpindi to send a letter objecting to such a report, it would be understandable. But why no less a personage than the "Addl Dte Gen of Pub Info" of the Indian Army is livid about a warning about the ISI is difficult to understand. Does Brigadier Thapar regard as impermissible that an alert be sounded about the ISI and the narcotics syndicates operating in India?
Does he regard as impertinent the suggestion that although the Indian Army is overall a magnificent force, there could exist elements within it who are susceptible to temptation? Or is he displaying the same complacency that in 1999 resulted in the Pakistan Army stealthily taking over key Indian posts at Kargil under the nose of the army?
Brigadier Thapar's implied assumption is that there is zero corruption in the Indian Army. But what about the spies found within the army who were working for Pakistan? What about those armymen in the Assam Rifles who were found guilty of narcotics smuggling during past years? And not just garden variety stuff, but methamphetamines from Laos, Thailand and Myanmar, smuggled into India in sizeable quantities?
What about the senior officers cashiered for scandals such as Sukna? Are they all victims of a smear campaign? Are they all innocent? The assumption that there is zero corruption in the army betrays a level of credulity that is dangerous in a force that needs to be ever vigilant to the possibility of subversion.
What is clear is that there exist some within Army HQ who want that they should be given the same free pass from the media as their counterparts in Pakistan. Sorry, Brigadier Thapar, this is not Pakistan but India. And threats of "further action" and "suitable recourse" will not stop this columnist from continuing to look into security threats, such as from the narcotics lobby.
Till now, this columnist accepted without question the official army version (of innocence) when confronted with reports of soldiers blamed for committing rape and robbery in locations such as the Northeast or Kashmir. No longer.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

PM Modi fast tracks government, silently (Sunday Guardian)

MADHAV NALAPAT  New Delhi | 26th Jul 2014
wo months since taking office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has effected significant changes across the spectrum of governance at the Centre, almost always without media attention. While experts on the Modi model of governance say that it will take six months for the changes to be visible, and two years before a new structure of governance is completed for ignition of the economy towards 15% growth, senior officials say that the difference between Modi and his predecessors has already become visible across the bureaucracy. "The difference is much more than the cosmetic effect of coming to work early", an official disclosed, adding that "what is changing is the pace and quality of decision-making, now that we have a PM who is fully involved in both the initiation of policy as well as monitoring its implementation".
Aware that the judicial system has become a bottleneck to growth, thanks to the inordinate cost and length of time of even routine litigation, the PM is setting up a National Litigation Data Grid (NLDG) "that would give immediate online information on every case being heard across the country, as well as the judges hearing the case". This would enable monitoring and feedback by the Supreme Court of efficiency in the disposition of cases, as also give the public accurate and real-time data about the progress of cases across the country. In addition, "the PM favours the appointment of 200 additional High Court judges to reduce the backlog", according to a senior official, who adds that "the objective is to ensure speedy justice and eliminate avoidable delays in the justice system".
A colleague pointed to the PM's directive that criminal cases against MPs be fast-tracked to ensure final completion within 12 months, and said that "the PM wants a similar result in all other cases as well". Efforts will, therefore, be ongoing "to utilise both modern technology as well as additional judges to ensure faster delivery of justice during the next five years". In the meantime, cases have proceeded even against very well-connected individuals, such as Sonia Gandhi in the National Herald case and Karti Chidambaram, son of former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, in a case involving an ambulance service in Rajasthan.
Unlike in the past, when ministers operated as mini-PMs, running their fiefs they saw fit, not bothering about directives or advice from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), these days there is constant monitoring of all ministries and their political and departmental heads. An example was a minister hailing from Maharashtra, who had gone on a stroll outside his residence dressed in jeans and sports shirt, only to get a call from the PMO that perhaps such attire was "inappropriate" for a Cabinet minister to don in public. Another minister was queried about a huge dinner that he was in the process of holding at official expense, and was told by a PMO official that such an expense was avoidable. The dinner was called off.
Ministers are being made to justify the trips they have made by itemising the work done during such sojourns. "The purpose is to create a culture of accountability at the top", an official said, adding that "the hardest working member of the Cabinet is the PM himself, who seldom works less than 16 hours each day".
Price rise has been flagged as a major concern, especially of food items. In this context, speculators (who were allowed to operate in an uncontrolled fashion by the UPA) are sought to be curbed by the creation of a National Food Grid (NFG). This would "give accurate online data on the 3,600 mandis or major food produce markets operating across India, and thereby weaken the agricultural mafias now controlling the supply of food items from farmer to shopkeeper", a senior official said, adding that "each of these changes is coming straight from the top". According to him, Prime Minister Modi is also ordering the fast-tracking of an Agricultural Corridor from Punjab to West Bengal. Along this corridor, which would be served by modern highways and rail links, "village clusters are to be set up where vegetables and other food items could get processed", including for export. "We hope to ensure that the farmer and not the farm product mafia gets the benefit of farm prices", a senior official said, adding that "ending speculation will cool down the inflation fever that the mafias have created". He expected that "the kingpin speculators will soon be subject to prosecution for the economic crimes they were encouraged to commit when Manmohan Singh was PM".
Another boost to economic activity being proposed by Team Modi is a "Green Corridor" between Rajasthan and Gujarat, which would use solar power to generate significant volumes of electricity. Similar corridors are being considered across the country, so as to ensure an eventual transition from fossil fuels to non-conventional energy sources. Transport of people and goods across the country is being sought to be improved by identifying railway lines that can be improved to double existing speeds, while bottlenecks in highway construction are being identified for removal.
Interestingly, forest and environmental clearances that were a major block to economic activity during the UPA decade, are now going online, "with clear instructions from the PM that decisions should be taken within 24 hours", except in rare cases. Rather than freeze or roll back economic activity as was the norm during the past decade, "this will be balanced against environmental needs so that any decision will be in overall public interest", including the right of citizens to income and occupation.
Although news reports have appeared about the PM meeting Aadhar boss Nandan Nilekani and continuing the Aadhar program opposed by the BJP earlier, "in reality the scheme being finalised is not the same as Aadhar", according to an official. Instead, what will get created is a database of "bona fide citizens", which will be handed over to the Ministry of Home Affairs to create a National Population Register, "so that there is a clear record of every genuine citizen" as distinct from those who have entered the country illegally. "The data will be used to ensure that welfare benefits reach only those for whom they are intended", rather than ending up in the pockets of politicians and officials, as has been the norm till now.
Importantly, keeping in view the need for food security, field trials have been cleared for 21 genetically modified foods, to supplement the five already okayed, which include brinjal, rice and cotton.
The Land Acquisition Bill passed by the UPA "has made it impossible to set up a large-scale industrial unit in India", according to a senior official. Accordingly, changes are on the anvil that would lower the proportion of those affected consenting to land being acquired from 80% to 50%, while the definition of those who are "project affected" has been limited to husband, wife and children rather than — as previously — the extended family. Also, the "lapse clause" will be removed, so that those setting up units do not invest funds in the fear that the land will someday get reclaimed by the original owner. The officials stressed that this list, although long, is "only indicative, and there are many more such innovations being considered".
The expectation is that within six months, the removal of the blockages created during the UPA period will result in an acceleration of overall growth to the double digit number in two years. "The Prime Minister may not be visible on stage or on television screens, but the effect of the change of government is being felt across the Central bureaucracy", said an official, who added that on 15 August, Prime Minister Modi will for the first time "reveal the road map for what he and his team propose to achieve during their tenure in office".

Friday, 25 July 2014

Saarc peace & prosperity zone (PO)

M.D. Nalapat
Friday, July 25, 2014 - Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a clear indication of his priorities when he invited India’s SAARC neighbours to his swearing-in on May 26. Defying those from within his coalition who wanted to exclude Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa from the list, he was warmly welcomed to Delhi by the PM. Defying those in Pakistan who urged him to boycott the swearing-in ceremony, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made the visit, and the talk in the national capital is that he and his counterpart found that they have a chemistry that promoted mutual regard and friendship.

In order to underline the importance of SAARC, the first foreign visit made by the new Prime Minister was to Bhutan, a country with a vibrant cultural and historical tapestry. The attention paid to SAARC by Prime Minister Modi was in contrast to his predecessor, who devoted much more attention to more far away shores, so that the relationship between India and its SAARC neighbours became frayed. Peaceful borders is a significant factor in creating conditions for faster economic development, the goal of Narendra Modi, who recognizes that only double-digit growth for a generation has the potential to lift hundreds of millions from poverty. The reality is that a friendly atmosphere between India and its SAARC neighbours can be a “Win-Win” for both sides. Greater trade in goods and services will create all-round employment, thereby reducing the influence of extremists who prey on poverty in their recruitment drives. Across SAARC, the enemies are the same: Poverty and Intolerance, weak standards of health and sanitation, lack of education and lower quality of learning in schools and universities.

The rest of the world will not pause while the SAARC countries amble along slowly in an effort to ensure better coordination. The zone has to have double-digit growth if it is to collectively ensured that its demographic dividend not morph into a disaster, with hundreds of millions of young and discontented under-educated unemployed rampaging across cities in the fashion witnessed in some other parts of the globe, and indeed even within SAARC, notably in Bangla Desh. The fact is that the countries in SAARC (which should be expanded to include Myanmar, now that Afghanistan is being welcomed) have natural complementarities that it would be a shame to waste. Their land and air space can serve as corridors for all the member-states. Connectivity between SAARC members is abysmal, with flights being infrequent and sea, road and rail services almost non-existent. Elections will be fought and won not on the basis of jingoistic slogans but on the achievement of prosperity. Narendra Modi’s success in election after election in Gujarat was based not on any social philosophy - real or imagined - but on the reality of prosperity. Electric power is available the whole day, and everywhere in the state. Roads are properly maintained, while the delivery of government services is prompt and of reasonable quality. Hundreds of thousands of voters from across the country who for a time lived and worked in Gujarat during the years (2001-2014) when Modi was in charge were his most effective campaign agents. They spread reports of his drive and efficiency, thereby giving voters across India hope that he can pull off a similar feat in the whole of India, if made the PM.

It was no secret that it was from the time that Narendra Modi was declared the Prime Ministerial candidate of the BJP in the closing months of 2013 that the BJP’s election campaign accelerated. Had the matter been kept vague, or had another person been seen as the PM in case the party won, the number of seats secured by the BJP would have been far less. Of course, even with Modi to campaign, about two dozen seats were lost because of poor selection of candidates by the BJP. SAARC needs to come out of the lack of ambition about its ambit that has marked the organisation since its inception. As a start, the restriction on discussion of “bilateral” issues within the forum needs to be removed. Good friends should be given the freedom to discuss every important matter, whether they fall into the “bilateral” or the “multilateral” box. Next, the proposal for a SAARC Development Bank needs to be worked out, now that the BRICS bank has finally taken shape. If prosperity is shared, so will peace be.

The two usually go together. A permanent SAARC headquarters needs to be established, and it would be a gesture towards the smaller members if this honour be made to go to one of them. The fact that the United Nations, the IMF and the World Bank are all located in the US has created skewness in the international architecture of governance that has distorted priorities and created dissonance. SAARC needs to spread its permanent institutions more widely, so as to avoid the Bretton Woods model of setting up global institutions that are dominated by a single country and its close allies. The world has changed since 1945 but the UN, the World Bank and the IMF have not. Incredibly, small European countries have the same voting rights in the IMF that China has, and indeed much bigger rights than another large economy, India. After waiting patiently since 1945 for good sense to dawn on the US and its close allies to bring into alignment the governance structure of the Bretton Woods institutions into sync with global reality, the BRICS powers have finally lost patience and have begun the process of setting up their own. So should SAARC.

Although derided in international fora for what is seen as its lack of coherence and effectiveness, SAARC has the potential to emerge as a significant force in the architecture of governance that is taking shape in a world where economic weightage is shifting back to Asia. The leaders of the SAARC countries should build upon the “Spirit of May 26” and craft a structure that would fast-track the cooperation and partnership needed for every member of SAARC to prosper, thereby ensuring peace, both within borders and across them.

Monday, 21 July 2014

UN BECAME NATO’s PR ARM (Daily News, Sri Lanka)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 (All day)

Top UNESCO official states
Selective treatment of countries
President Rajapaksa’s independence has irked West
The United Nations Organisation has become an instrument of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), UNESCO Chair for the Promotion of the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence, Prof. Madhav Nalapat said yesterday.
Prof. Nalapat who is also Director Geopolitics and International Relations said the United Nations is in the habit of selecting certain countries to be ignored while another group of countries are selected for attack.
“To be very frank, the UN has become the public relations office of the NATO,” he said.
Prof. Nalapat is among the five member delegation led by BJP Committee on Strategic Action chairman Dr. Subramanian Swamy who participated yesterday in a panel discussion on ‘India under Modi: relevance for the Region and the World’ in Colombo.
The event was organised by the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies.
The UN is nothing but a wing of the NATO, he reiterated, adding the UN does what NATO wants it to do. He said India will take a correct stand on Sri Lanka in Geneva.
“India will take a correct stand in Geneva as the new government is pragmatic and a progressive one,” he said.
Prof. Nalapat said nobody should pay serious attention to the United Nations Human Rights Council as it has become an international joke.
“The UNHRC is in the practice of ignoring certain things and highlighting certain other things,” he said. He said that UNHRC selects its countries based on whether the particular government is dominated by the West or not.
Prof. Nalpat said that Sri Lanka would have not faced any resolution if President Mahinda Rajapaksa was servile to the Western countries.
He added that the UNHRC and Western nations are going after President Rajapaksa as the latter is independent and is defending the interests of Sri Lankans.
President Rajapaksa who is independent and a proud Sri Lankan defending Sri Lankan interests has irked the west. That is why they are going after him, he said.
Prof. Nalpat said the independent stand of President Mahinda Rajapaksa is appreciated by the global community.
“Other leaders will also follow the lead of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. They should not go with the begging bowl to the doorstep of different countries,” he said.

Audio: Panel on "India under Modi: Relevance for the Region and the World", 21st July 2014, Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies, Sri Lanka

Panel Discussion on "India under Modi: Relevance for the Region and the World" on 21st July 2014, Organized by Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies, Sri Lanka

1. Dr. Subramanian Swamy, Chairman, BJP Committee on Strategic Action & Former Union Minister
2. Dr Seshadri Chari, National Convenor, Foreign Policy Cell of the BJP
3. Dr. Suresh Prabhu, Former Union Minister
4. Dr. Swapan Dasgupta, Senior Journalist & Political Commentator
5. Prof. Madhav Nalapat, Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, India.

Mr. H.M.G.S. Palihakkara.
Former Secretary,
Ministry of External Affairs & Sri Lanka Ambassador & Permanent Representative to the United Nations

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Ram Madhav, Harsh Vardhan are true Sanatanis (Sunday Guardian)

M.D Nalapat is the Editorial Director of The Sunday Guardian.
Votaries of the freedom respecting spirit of Sanatan Dharma will welcome that the human rights of those of alternative sexuality should be respected.
ndia has the biggest population of young people of any country on the planet, with China far behind because of the "one child per couple" policy enforced there since the 1970s. Unfortunately, the young are only very sparsely represented in positions of authority or institutions of governance, in both of which greybeards function in profusion. Should such individuals accept that times have changed, and therefore so should attitudes, the fact that youth is under-represented at decision-making levels ought not to be a serious hindrance to results.
Unfortunately, several of more advanced vintage get locked into attitudes that are not simply 1970s but 1890s vintage. Given that the country is still functioning under a civil service structure that last saw major innovations in the 1890s (when Indians began to be gingerly accepted into at least its peripheral functions), this is no surprise. Given the fact that the mere fact and length of usage of customs and procedures that were archaic even when introduced more than a century back gets passed off as "tradition" in India, it comes as no surprise that for the past two decades, the best of the young have — with rare exceptions — stayed away from the administrative services. The antiquated modes of cadre selection, still extant, have resulted in the entry into the IAS and other elite services of many who focus less on public than on personal interest.
Now that he has vanquished his political rivals in the 2014 polls and secured for the BJP a majority in the Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's primary problem will come from within his own flock, exactly as was the case when he took charge of Gujarat in the closing months of 2001. Angered by the murder of 58 karsevaks trapped inside a train compartment off Godhra station, mobs indulged in violence, with the Chief Minister's request to the Centre to immediately call in the army going unanswered for two crucial days. As a consequence of the lessons learnt during that unhappy — and never repeated — episode, Modi took action against possible excesses of several organisations active in the mayhem, a fact which led the state units of the VHP and the Bajrang Dal to turn hostile to him for the remainder of his period as CM.
Given such a record for independent judgement, it is unlikely that Modi will pander to those in his party who would like to see state agencies enforce Victorian codes of conduct on the people of India, the way the Congress-NCP government is seeking to do in Mumbai by banning dancing in bars and the keeping open of restaurants till the early hours of the morning. The Wahhabi-Victorian mindset of the Maharashtra government is taking away whatever chance Mumbai has of becoming a global financial hub.
In any such location, late nights are the norm, while standards of behaviour are sometimes such as would get frowned upon by the Sri Ram Sene or by its behavioural twin, the Muttawa or religious police of Saudi Arabia, both of whom would applaud Maharashtra's Home Minister for his narrow-minded ways.
Narendra Modi represents a 21st century vision, hence it was a surprise to see some in his team call for a return to the 19th century, for example, by downgrading the teaching of English. The fact is that knowledge of the international link language in no way negates the syncretic and tolerant culture of Sanatan Dharma. The use of state power or law to enforce Wahhabi-Victorian codes on a population unwilling any more to accept the restraints of the Nehru-colonial model is wrong, and hopefully will not be attempted now that the effort is to tether India to the 21st century rather than drag the country back to the 19th.
Votaries of the freedom-respecting spirit of Sanatan Dharma will therefore welcome the recent remarks of both RSS spokesperson (and now BJP activist) Ram Madhav as well as Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, that the human rights of those of alternative sexuality should be respected.
Narendra Modi got votes from those seeking a 21st century India, and such citizens expect that the new government will ensure that India's Information Superhighway gets sharply expanded, so that modern languages and technology become accessible to even the poor, rather than remain the preserve of the well-off. They expect transparency in government, much more than has been seen in the past.
Such goals are more important than seeking to return Indian society to mores favoured — at least publicly — by Queen Victoria, and which still anachronistically permeate far too many laws of the land.

Modi-Jinping chemistry to bring India UNSC prize (Sunday Guardian)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping "bonded together" in their first meeting at the Fortaleza BRICS summit, say individuals cognizant of the thinking of the new Chinese administration. President Xi Jinping is also General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Chairperson of the Central Military Commission (CMC). They say that the new leader recognises that "India is not just a South Asian but a global power", and that China "will soon" publicly join the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council (France, UK, US and Russia) in backing India for this exclusive club, most likely during Xi's forthcoming visit to New Delhi this year. All this forms part of what is termed the "India Initiative" of the new Chinese leadership.
When asked about the delay in backing India when the other four permanent members of the UNSC had already expressed support, a senior observer said that "the US, France and UK are just giving lip service to wanting India as a permanent Security Council member". He asked why, if the three NATO powers were serious about India joining, they did not "ensure a vote in the Security Council and later the General Assembly on the issue?" He added that President Xi sees India as an equal.
An associate claimed that "the US has privately indicated that it will never schedule a UNSC vote on Indian membership so long as it knows that its proposal to include Japan as a permanent member will be subject to veto, while France is not comfortable sharing its privileged position in the UN with Germany but is hesitant to schedule a vote for Delhi ahead of one for Berlin". His colleague added that "the US perception is that for India, words are enough to keep them happy, and that actions are not needed". He said that in the case of China, "our actions will match our words, which is why Beijing welcomes Modi as PM, as he is super practical and appreciates others who are".
According to observers with access to policymaking, it was "at the request of President Xi" that India became the first country to be visited by Chinese Prime Minister Li Kequian soon after taking charge last year, and to the "unprecedented" flurry of completed and planned high-level visits from Beijing (since Xi took charge of the CCP). "In the past, Vietnam or Thailand received many more visits by high Chinese officials than India", said a key aide involved in working out policy options for the CCP. According to an associate, it is clear to the new leadership in China that "participation by India is vital for the commercial and diplomatic success of key initiatives" such as the New Silk Road, the Maritime Silk Road and the Trans-Himalayan Alliance. He noted that "Prime Minister Modi takes decisions looking only at India's self-interest and not the commands of other countries" (meaning the US). These experts welcomed the 30 June 2014 agreement in Beijing to set up industrial parks in India for Chinese companies, pointing out that "it makes more sense for India to manufacture Chinese equipment in India than to import entire kits from China because investment into your country from ours is banned".
When asked about the $35 billion trade gap in China's favour, an aide pointed out that "97 million Chinese tourists spent hundreds of billions last year, but India only welcomed 43,000 because of visa and infrastructure problems". He wondered why India was not following the example of the US and France in making it easier for Chinese tourists to enter the country. About other possibilities for reducing the trade deficit, he pointed out that "Indian teachers coming to China could use their English-language skills to meet the immense Chinese demand for learning a language mastered by tens of millions in India". Another point made was that "the Indian side has given a list of about 40 items that merit fast-track entry into the (Chinese) market, and this list is being considered. Expect good news by the time (President) Xi arrives in Delhi."
Key aides in the policymaking process said that on the border issue, the new leadership in Beijing favours a "full and final settlement" but that in between, "what is needed is to ensure mechanisms which prevent border incidents from taking place". They said that given a constant upgrade of ties between Beijing and Delhi, a mutually agreed settlement of the border issue is possible "even during the period in office of Modi and Xi", but for this to happen, "public opinion in both countries must see for themselves that partnership brings prosperity to both sides and that neither country is the enemy of the other".
Interestingly, the India Initiative launched by Beijing has its origin not in China's Foreign Ministry or in the economic ministries, but in the President's Secretariat itself. "President Xi wants to create better connectivity between India and China so as to boost trade, investment and visits," a senior observer mentioned. According to him, "The Chinese leadership is delighted by Narendra Modi taking over as PM because both Xi and Modi are strong, patriotic and practical leaders seeking for ways to make their countries recapture the high position both had centuries ago." He added that "this is possible only if both countries work together".
A senior interlocutor added that "while President Jiang never mentioned India in policy conversations, focusing almost always on the US and Europe, President Xi brings up India often, and stresses the need for close ties". He said that Beijing "was watching" India's plans for increasing connectivity between Delhi and Jakarta, Bangkok and Nyaypidaw and "welcomed such moves because (Beijing was) confident in the sincerity and independence of the new leadership" in Delhi. "Very soon India will be welcomed as a full member of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation)", he predicted.
According to these sources, the meeting between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi during the BRICS summit in Brazil "went very well" and that "the Chinese side appreciated the (Indian) PM's agreeing to make Shanghai the headquarters of the BRICS Development Bank even though some (Indian) officials were against this". They added that "the PM's suggestion that India should get the Presidentship was accepted immediately" by the Chinese side, which also wants a "leading role" for India in the proposed Asian Infrastructure Development Bank (AIDB), while they would like the headquarters of the new entity to be Beijing, given China's massive financial contribution to the corpus of the bank. They added however that "pride of place will be given to Indian citizens in running the AIDB just like in the BRICS Bank". It was pointed out that in contrast, "in both the World Bank and the IMF, NATO alliance partners dominated although most of the funds now come from outside". They were agreed that "the goodwill and understanding towards China by Prime Minister Modi and the policy of President Xi for a close partnership with India are the two factors pushing the (Sino-Indian) relationship forward".
A senior interlocutor said that "the Prime Minister was direct and clear in his discussions with the BRICS leaders, focussing on win-win areas that all sides could agree on and making many practical suggestions". He added that "this straight talk made a big impression on the Chinese delegation", including apparently on President Xi himself, who, according to him, is looking forward to "closely working with Prime Minister Modi on global issues".
As another sign of the "principle of equality" between China and India embodied in the India Initiative, the sources pointed out that President Xi publicly invited Prime Minister Modi to attend the forthcoming APEC summit falling due in November. It was pointed out that APEC comprises the world's biggest economies and that this gesture (by Xi) shows his respect for the PM and his desire to "involve India in what is the fastest-developing region in the world".
The APEC invite was highlighted as an example of Beijing's "action-oriented" diplomacy towards India, in contrast to what was claimed to be Washington's "words-oriented" policy towards India.
"Will President Obama agree to schedule a vote this year on India becoming a permanent member of the UNSC? If so, China will not disappoint India", a source claimed, adding that "now it is for the US to match words with action".
If Prime Minister Modi is able to persuade US President Barack Obama to schedule an early vote in the UNSC and the General Assembly on permanent membership for India, he may succeed where all his predecessors have failed, in getting a confirmed seat for India at the highest table of international diplomacy.