Archive for the ‘India’ Category

This Indian government has done well

By Jonathan Power

E.M. Forster, the English novelist, wrote in his “Passage to India” of India “swelling here, shrinking there, like some low, indestructible, form of life”.

But the India of today is a totally different place from 1920. Economic growth was tiny in British times (even though a large network of railways and schools were built). Since independence in 1947 infant mortality has dropped to one fourth of what it used to be and longevity has more than doubled. Economic growth has increased since the 1960s from around 3% a year – the so-called “Hindu growth rate” – to a high of 10% – the peak achievement of the present Congress government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party president, Sonia Gandhi.

Why then is the opposition leader of the BJP, Narendra Modi, who has a repugnant reputation when it comes to dealing with India’s Muslims, set for victory? Admittedly, as chief minister, he has industrialised Gujarat but the state, growing at 10%, has done less well than four other states in its poverty reduction and improved education and health services.

It’s because the government has taken one bad knock after another. Read the rest of this entry »

Pakistan – What Now?

By Johan Galtung

Islamabad, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 28 Feb 2014

Your Excellencies,

The basic point is that Pakistan will not get that commodity called “peace” in Kashmir, Afghanistan and Central Asia by pursuing the ends and means of Washington and some local elites only. For peace to blossom the goals of other parties also have to be considered; and they are many. The logic of the political games pursued today presupposes some kind of victory or domination of “our side”: neither feasible nor desirable for peace. Hence, the need for some visions for peace politics is Kashmir, Afghanistan and Central Asia for tomorrow or the day after, with the hope that they can be useful when you have come to the end of the road with current policies. Nothing of this is easy; and without visions even impossible.

The fairly detailed, non-dogmatic vision appended (below) was my acceptance speech of the 2011 Abdul Ghaffar Khan International Peace-Builder Award by the Pakistan-American Muslim Association.

However, why do present policies so often seem to be non-starters?

The British empire drew three lines with disastrous effects for Pakistan: the Durand line in 1893, a 1,600-mile wound defining the border with Afghanistan, dividing the Pashtun nation – the biggest nation in the world without a state – into two parts; the McMahon line of 1914 defining the border with China in ways unacceptable to the Chinese; and the Mountbatten line of 1947 leading to the catastrophic violence of the partition. These lines have to be negated, liberating Pakistan from that past. Read the rest of this entry »

Challenging China

By Jonathan Power

The West, the US especially, has got itself into a fretful mood over the rise of China. Quite unnecessarily so. The Chinese growth rate is slowing. As a BBC commentator said today, reviewing this week’s government-issued statistics, China never will hit double digit growth again. Glitzy Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu and their like, where growth is still well over 10% a year, make up only a part of China’s economy.

Much of the country has an income per head more akin to Ecuador. Read the rest of this entry »

The Chomsky/Vltchek worldview

By Richard Falk

Recently I read On Western Terrorism: from Hiroshima to Drone Warfare, published in 2013 by Pluto Press here in London, and consisting of a series of conversations between Chomsky and the Czech filmmaker, journalist, and author, Andre Vltchek, who is now a naturalized American citizen.

Vltchek in an illuminating Preface describes his long and close friendship with Chomsky, and explains that these fascinating conversations took place over the course of two days, and was filmed with the intention of producing a documentary. The book is engaging throughout, with my only big complaint being about the misdirection of the title—there is virtually nothing said about either Hiroshima or drone warfare, but almost everything else politically imaginable!

Vltchek, previously unknown to me, consistently and calmly held his own during the conversations, speaking with comparable authority and knowledge about an extraordinary assortment of topics that embraced the entire global scene, something few of us would have the nerve to attempt, much less manage with such verve, insight, and empathy. After finishing the book my immediate reaction was that ‘Chomsky knows everything’ and ‘Vltchek has been everywhere and done everything.’

Omniscience and omnipresence are not often encountered, being primary attributes commonly attributed by theologians to a monotheistic god! Leaving aside this hyperbole, one is stunned throughout by the quality of the deep knowledge and compassion exhibited by these two public intellectuals, and even more by their deeply felt sympathy for all those being victimized as a result of the way in which the world is organized and Western hard power has been and is being deployed.

The book left me with a sense of how much that even those of us who try to be progressive and informed leave untouched, huge happenings taking place in domains beyond the borders of our consciousness. It suggests that almost all of us are ignoring massive injustices because they receive such scant attention from mainstream media and our access to alternative sources is too restricted. And, maybe also, the capacity for the intake of severe injustice is limited for most of us.

The book is well worth reading just to grasp this gap between what we care about and what is actually worth caring about. Read the rest of this entry »

BRICS: The real “Global South” today

By Johan Galtung

Keynote European Center for Peace and Development, Beograd, 12 Oct 2013

Two basic facts stand out in the world economic development, leaving aside military, political, cultural and social development:

* The BRICS – an acronym becoming a social fact–are emerging;

* The USA-EU are declining; not only as markets, also as producers.

Another way of saying this is that the West has been outcompeted, not by the Rest but by – so far – a select part. The world market is not constant but increasing sum, but much demand may be met by domestic production, not by import-export. As part of the story.

The West got the definition of development wrong, still clinging to economic development = economic growth (measured by annual GNP/capita increase). The BRICS understood development differently, adding economic distribution (measured by the ratio in acquisitive power between the top and bottom 20%, and between the CEO and average worker salary; at the macro and micro levels). No growth spells recession-depression, no distribution spells worse: death. For economic, like for geographic, positioning, at least two dimensions are needed. A professor in latitudes, or growth, only, is simply not good enough.

Development becomes increasing growth and increasing equality. Growth alone may lead to flagrant inequality at the expense of those at the bottom and nature–a system we know only too well–distribution alone may lead to the shared misery of some human past. We need both.

The map of the world was also wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

The Westgate Mall massacre: Reflections

By Richard Falk

The carefully planned attack by al-Shabaab on civilians in Nairobi’s Westgate Mall carried the pathology of rage and the logic of fanaticism to unspeakable extremes. Imagine deciding on the life or death of any person, but particularly a child, by whether or not they could name the mother of Mohammed or recite a verse from the Koran.

Islamic fanaticism should be condemned with the moral fervor appropriate to such a violation of the most fundamental norms of respect for innocence and human dignity. To gun down at random whoever happened to be shopping at Westgate Mall on the fateful day of September 21st is to carry political violence beyond a point of no return.

Of course, even fanatics have a certain logic of justification that makes their acts congruent with a warped morality. In this instance, the al-Shabab case rests on a vengeful response to the participation of the Kenyan army units in a multinational military operation of the African Union in neighboring Somalia. This AU operation, reinforced by U.S. drone attacks and special forces, has led to the severe weakening of al-Shabab’s political influence in Somalia, provoking an evident sense of desperation and acute resentment, as well as a tactic of making those that interfere in Somalia’s internal politics bear some adverse spillover effects.

But if such an explanation is expected to excuse the demonic actions at Westgate, in any but equally depraved pockets of alienated consciousness, it is deeply mistaken. Read the rest of this entry »

Egypt – it could have been different

By Mariam Abuhaideri

While international envoys failed to broker an end to the political deadlock between Egypt’s Armed Forces and the Muslim Brotherhood, there was still room for diplomatic solutions to the turmoil, as Vice President El Baradei was quoted as saying before he resigned from his post yesterday following the brutal clean-up operation of two of the Bortherhood’s biggest sit-in protests.

Why did mediation fail?

Anyone who has done the rounds of Tahrir and has subscribed to various social networks in Egypt would know- it is not rocket science- Egyptians are against Obama and everything the US stands for. They see the US as a cause of much of this divide in Egyptian society and anti-US rhetoric is omnipresent. Funny thing is that the US would send Republican senators who are so opposed to internationals even within their own country. Some may argue that it was a wise step, as Congress would not accept the analysis of democrat senators. Yet, I knew it wouldn’t work even before it actually failed. The same could be said in varying capacities about the envoys from EU, UAE, and Qatar. They all had stakes or supported one side over the other.

Even a day following the deadliest crack down since the revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak in 2011, many countries have only gone as far as condemning the killings. Read the rest of this entry »

Civilization dialogue as a way of life

By Johan Galtung

Civilization: there are six sources of inspiration today, vying for the attention of a humanity looking for goals and means. Two of them are Western secular, liberal and Marxist, defining to a large extent the USA and the former Soviet Union, but not identical with them. Two of them are Oriental amalgams of civilizations, the Japanese Shinto-Confucian-Buddhist civilization, trying to be Western liberal, and the Chinese Daoist-Confucian-Buddhist civilization with strong elements of Western liberal and Western Marxist. And two of them are in-between: the Islamic and the Buddhist civilizations.[i]

Dialogue: it simply has to happen. Read the rest of this entry »

Pakistan is fighting for its very existence

By Jonathan Power

There is an “in” political word – “blowback”. Pakistan certainly has it. We can also call it “the chickens coming home to roost” or the “sins of the fathers visited upon the children”. The question is can the new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, do anything about it? His predecessor wasn’t able to do much and neither could the military government of General Pervez Musharraf which preceded him. Now we have to see if Sharif can find a solution. If he fails Pakistan might rip itself apart.

“Blowback” is happening because the shots are increasingly being called in political life by the extremist Islamist fighting units that the now threatened Pakistan political establishment itself created. Read the rest of this entry »

The self-destruction of Pakistan

By Jonathan Power

Patience is wearing thin. “Pakistan be damned”, one influential British policy maker said to me. Professors Paul Kapur and Sumit Ganguly write this month in Harvard University’s “International Security”, that “The Pakistan-jihad nexus is as old as the Pakistani state. From its founding in 1947 to the present day Pakistan has used religiously motivated militant forces as strategic tools.” But now the policy has become “dangerous and potentially catastrophic”, they add. Read the rest of this entry »


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