S JAISHANKAR

do-appointments-of-lgs-give-any-clue-to-namo’s-future-strategy-

Do appointments of LGs give any clue to NaMo’s future strategy?

The NaMo Govt is known for its penchant for civil servants but it has its own way to deploy, employ and engage them to accomplish its task and corner the opposition on issues like demonetisation, GST and abrogation of Article 370.

In June 2018 none could understand the objective as why B V R Subrahmanyam (IAS:1987:CG) was borrowed from Chhattisgarh as J&K Chief Secretary. In fact, Subrahmanyam was brought to J&K to take commands from NaMo administration and hold sway over their execution. A year later (May 31, 2019), the entire system remained clueless and failed to explain NaMo administration’s certain bureaucratic and political decisions which include S Jaishanker’s induction as Foreign Minister, Cabinet rank to NSA Ajit Doval and 03 months extension to the then Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha putting the then Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba on wait to replace Sinha. It was only after the abrupt abrogation of Article 370 and 35A that had unfolded the mystery. The top officials, mentioned above, proved as key to the flawless execution of NaMo-Shah’s plan for J&K. 

Even though much is being said and written about appointment of former Defence Secretary R K Mathur and NaMo-Shah loyalist and expenditure Secretary G C Murmu as LGs of Ladakh and J&K and respectively. It requires out of box thinking to gauge NaMo administration’s move. Again it is not a mere coincidence that PM Modi on Monday expressed his aspirations for integrating PoK with India. None knows if it is the very context NaMo often refers as New India?

Further, it was also not a sheer coincidence that NaMo administration picked former IB Chief Dineshwar Sharma as the Administrator of Lakshadweep which is increasingly exposed to Chinese strategic moves to encircle India and its intensifying strategic partnership with Shri Lanka.

If one goes by the credentials and experience of these newly appointed LGs and Administrator, one might be able to gauge the future perspective of NaMo Administration for New India. NaMo administration needed the one who could religiously implement its rehabilitation plans and development roadmap in Jammu & Kashmir and the one who could shoulder the strategic needs of Ladakh which shares borders with Pak, PoK and China.

(By Rakesh Ranjan)

29 Oct 2019
dealing-with-trump's-hasty-ambush

Dealing with Trump's hasty ambush

Readying to hit Iran hard, US President Donald Trump, who is seen as a reincarnation of famous or infamous Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible, has pressured India's pain points. The withdrawal of preferential duty on some Indian goods may hit New Delhi's exports worth $6.5 billion on top of severely damaging its Exim business with Iran following the US move that has already brought India under the Iran sanction regime - from which there was a waiver for some time. Add $2.5 billion of India's exports to Iran, and the total damage to Indian exports works out to $9billion in one single Trump stroke. This is not a small amount for a country like India that has been for years running huge trade deficits reaching a record $176 billion in FY19.


Like all relationships, Indo-US relations have not been without pain points. Without going far deep into the past particularly the Indira-Nixon years, one could see those pain points emerging and hurting the overall ties between the two great democracies. And creating avoidable uncertainties in the minds of the leaders of both countries. Take, for instance, the relationship between the two countries following the signing of Indo-US, or US-India, civil nuclear deal. While the deal helped India engage in legitimate nuclear commerce, it didn't help the US very much till recently when its nuclear power building company Westinghouse got out of insolvency problem.


Even though the blame for the failure to avail of the benefits of the nuclear deal lay squarely on US businesses, bitter sentiments marked Washington grievances on the issue. True, everyone has a tell-tale tendency to eat the cake and have it too. But nations, like individuals, resolve this problem through dialogue and negotiations. Of course, the bitter US feelings for not getting immediately the benefits of the nuke deal was mitigated and assuaged to a large extent by a series of defense deals.


And defense and related technology deals are possibly the best means to carry forward and smoothe the relationship between the two countries straining under huge trade deficit of over US$20 billion in India's favor and apparently unequal playing field between Indian and American businesses, made worse, for instance, by one tax rules for Indian e-commerce companies and another for US and other companies. It seems the tax rules changed in the last months of 2018 might have been born out of a miscalculation on the part of the government which read too much in the personal conflict and disliking between Amazon boss Jeff Bezos and President Trump who often exchange not too pleasant greetings on the Twitter. Prone and extremely vulnerable to malicious gossip, we Indians have a self-destructive pathological tendency to mix gossip with state policy.


The trade deficit of US$176 billion in FY19 tells us a disturbing story - that we don't have money in our ATM and that we are living off on borrowed money. It also tells us that there are serious structural problems with our economy and political governance. Clearly, the US is in a position to help us improve our economy. But they want something in return - fair treatment for their businesses vs spent forces of Indian businesses. They are ready with their proposals for massive investment in defense industries, stressed assets reconstruction, manufacturing, and marketing and so on.


The question is are we ready?


(By M K Shukla & Rakesh Ranjan)

04 Jun 2019
do-appointments-of-lgs-give-any-clue-to-namo’s-future-strategy-

Do appointments of LGs give any clue to NaMo’s future strategy?

By IndianMandarins 29 Oct 2019

The NaMo Govt is known for its penchant for civil servants but it has its own way to deploy, employ and engage them to accomplish its task and corner the opposition on issues like demonetisation, GST and abrogation of Article 370.

In June 2018 none could understand the objective as why B V R Subrahmanyam (IAS:1987:CG) was borrowed from Chhattisgarh as J&K Chief Secretary. In fact, Subrahmanyam was brought to J&K to take commands from NaMo administration and hold sway over their execution. A year later (May 31, 2019), the entire system remained clueless and failed to explain NaMo administration’s certain bureaucratic and political decisions which include S Jaishanker’s induction as Foreign Minister, Cabinet rank to NSA Ajit Doval and 03 months extension to the then Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha putting the then Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba on wait to replace Sinha. It was only after the abrupt abrogation of Article 370 and 35A that had unfolded the mystery. The top officials, mentioned above, proved as key to the flawless execution of NaMo-Shah’s plan for J&K. 

Even though much is being said and written about appointment of former Defence Secretary R K Mathur and NaMo-Shah loyalist and expenditure Secretary G C Murmu as LGs of Ladakh and J&K and respectively. It requires out of box thinking to gauge NaMo administration’s move. Again it is not a mere coincidence that PM Modi on Monday expressed his aspirations for integrating PoK with India. None knows if it is the very context NaMo often refers as New India?

Further, it was also not a sheer coincidence that NaMo administration picked former IB Chief Dineshwar Sharma as the Administrator of Lakshadweep which is increasingly exposed to Chinese strategic moves to encircle India and its intensifying strategic partnership with Shri Lanka.

If one goes by the credentials and experience of these newly appointed LGs and Administrator, one might be able to gauge the future perspective of NaMo Administration for New India. NaMo administration needed the one who could religiously implement its rehabilitation plans and development roadmap in Jammu & Kashmir and the one who could shoulder the strategic needs of Ladakh which shares borders with Pak, PoK and China.

(By Rakesh Ranjan)

dealing-with-trump's-hasty-ambush

Dealing with Trump's hasty ambush

By IndianMandarins 04 Jun 2019

Readying to hit Iran hard, US President Donald Trump, who is seen as a reincarnation of famous or infamous Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible, has pressured India's pain points. The withdrawal of preferential duty on some Indian goods may hit New Delhi's exports worth $6.5 billion on top of severely damaging its Exim business with Iran following the US move that has already brought India under the Iran sanction regime - from which there was a waiver for some time. Add $2.5 billion of India's exports to Iran, and the total damage to Indian exports works out to $9billion in one single Trump stroke. This is not a small amount for a country like India that has been for years running huge trade deficits reaching a record $176 billion in FY19.


Like all relationships, Indo-US relations have not been without pain points. Without going far deep into the past particularly the Indira-Nixon years, one could see those pain points emerging and hurting the overall ties between the two great democracies. And creating avoidable uncertainties in the minds of the leaders of both countries. Take, for instance, the relationship between the two countries following the signing of Indo-US, or US-India, civil nuclear deal. While the deal helped India engage in legitimate nuclear commerce, it didn't help the US very much till recently when its nuclear power building company Westinghouse got out of insolvency problem.


Even though the blame for the failure to avail of the benefits of the nuclear deal lay squarely on US businesses, bitter sentiments marked Washington grievances on the issue. True, everyone has a tell-tale tendency to eat the cake and have it too. But nations, like individuals, resolve this problem through dialogue and negotiations. Of course, the bitter US feelings for not getting immediately the benefits of the nuke deal was mitigated and assuaged to a large extent by a series of defense deals.


And defense and related technology deals are possibly the best means to carry forward and smoothe the relationship between the two countries straining under huge trade deficit of over US$20 billion in India's favor and apparently unequal playing field between Indian and American businesses, made worse, for instance, by one tax rules for Indian e-commerce companies and another for US and other companies. It seems the tax rules changed in the last months of 2018 might have been born out of a miscalculation on the part of the government which read too much in the personal conflict and disliking between Amazon boss Jeff Bezos and President Trump who often exchange not too pleasant greetings on the Twitter. Prone and extremely vulnerable to malicious gossip, we Indians have a self-destructive pathological tendency to mix gossip with state policy.


The trade deficit of US$176 billion in FY19 tells us a disturbing story - that we don't have money in our ATM and that we are living off on borrowed money. It also tells us that there are serious structural problems with our economy and political governance. Clearly, the US is in a position to help us improve our economy. But they want something in return - fair treatment for their businesses vs spent forces of Indian businesses. They are ready with their proposals for massive investment in defense industries, stressed assets reconstruction, manufacturing, and marketing and so on.


The question is are we ready?


(By M K Shukla & Rakesh Ranjan)

pm-modi-&-jaishankar:-choice,-coincidences-and-chemistry

PM Modi & Jaishankar: Choice, coincidences and chemistry

By IndianMandarins 03 Jun 2019

Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (Retd IFS:1977), former External Affairs Secretary and a Padma Shri awardee, has brought quite a surprising element to NaMo Govt 2.0. In the past too he has been kicking off one surprise after the other. So a look at Jaishankar’s journey through the events that led to the peak of a career that is simply incredible:

 

First and foremost, he was the first choice of former PM Dr Manmohan Singh for the top job of India’s Ambassador to US (during civil nuke deal). When Narendra Modi took over, Jaishankar became the first choice of PM for Foreign Secretary. People in power corridors are abuzz of Jaishankar’s competence, contributions, attributes and ascent that more than once turned the choice to him irrespective of the change in political leadership of the country.

 

And there are yet a few more interesting coincidences:   

 

Jaishankar first displaced Foreign Secretary Sujata Singh (SS) to occupy the coveted post and later stepped into the shoes of foreign minister Sushma Swaraj (SS). Thus, he replaced one lady after the other and both have the initials SS – a strange coincidence.

 

Soon after he was announced to be part of Modi Cabinet news reports referred to him as retired Foreign Secretary. Most reporters forgot that he had joined the Tatas only few days after his superannuation. His entry to the top business house virtually laid a new precedent. And it is akin to the practice of revolving door which is common in the US. He was a Tata man for 18 months before becoming Minister; a new sort of lateral entry into the Cabinet? 

 

Jaishankar’s coming to the political executive is like that of Manmohan Singh when he suddenly became FM. Singh also went on to become PM. So who can say what is in store in case of Jaishankar?

 

Leave this aside for a moment and look at PM Modi’s spiritual connection with Shankar. The PM has twice been elected from Varanasi, the holy land of Shankar or Baba Vishwanath. During Modi 1.0 (beginning from 2014) Jaishankar became FS and in the second term of the PM the then FS has been made Minister for External Affairs. Isn’t the chemistry incredible?

modi-govt-2.0-outlining-a-growth-story:-drive-conveniently,-drive-easy

Modi Govt 2.0 outlining a growth story: Drive conveniently, drive easy

By IndianMandarins 02 Jun 2019

India needs an investment ranging from $5 to 10 trillion to develop its infrastructure, science, agriculture, industry, and commerce to a point where the per capita GDP improves from $2000 to $20,000 in the next 10 years. Where will, or could, this money come from? Only from the US, Europe, and East Asian countries like Japan and South Korea. Forget about China. Let it invest in Pakistan.

 

That being the reality, New Delhi may have to work really hard and pragmatically in the next few months to streamline its economic reform agenda and tune the foreign policy accordingly. The concept of economic nationalism is good, but it has to be distilled too often through pragmatism to turn on its potency.

 

Currently, Europe, which could be one of the major financiers to India's growth story, has been waiting helplessly for the last 15 years for a free trade agreement. Similar is the story of trade relations with the US which has expressed its great displeasure by withdrawing the GSP trade scheme. Trade relations with Japan and South Korea are good but not without creases. 

 

In all cases, irrelevant issues have been raised by negotiating officials. So the matter needs to be sorted out at the government and ministerial levels.

 

The US move to withdraw GSP on India's exports to that country has only added urgency to the matter of redefining India's relations with financing countries. No great achievements would be made if New Delhi tries to woo Chinese capital, which is already tied with financing India's adversaries and enemies.

 

The US president is known for his transactional nature. Since the US played a pivotal role in backing France-sponsored Western move to blacklist Masood Azhar by taking the issue to the larger UNSC, which would have made China explain the reasons for its 'constructive support' to Azhar, China blinked and backed off because it had no valid reasons for imposing its willful and malicious hold on Azhar's blacklisting.

 

For a much-needed favor shown to India, Trump naturally wants reciprocal favor. And like always, New Delhi is whining and grumbling. Instead of sending the new foreign minister Jaishankar to Washington to handle the matter urgently and negotiate a win-win deal on minor trade issues that could snowball into bigger problems, spinmasters are trying to convey that the move may not be much damaging.

 

The commerce ministry has said and believes that the GSP withdrawal may impact marginally as the total duty reduction under the scheme was only $190 million a year on the trade value of $6.3 billion. Since, in 2018, India had a goods trade surplus of $21.3 billion with the US, the ministry is not bothered about the fact that what begins as a trickle could become a powerful trend. Look at our trade deficit with China: it began as a trickle 15 years ago and now it costs a huge $70 billion that empowers China to freely finance our adversaries, enemies, and internal saboteurs.

 

New Delhi doesn't seem to have played its hands deftly during the first NaMo term 2014-19 on issues that concern the West, which remains the largest source of FDI, FPIs, technology, IT, and outsourcing businesses. In 2018, for instance, it created avoidable tax hurdles in the functioning of Amazon. It really sent out a wrong signal that it was being done to protect domestic e-commerce and other retail businesses. After the Vodafone incident, this was the second instance of creating unnecessary tax problems for major foreign operators. In both cases, the FinMin was run by lawyers.

 

So, in a sense, it's a great relief that the FinMin has come to be occupied by Nirmala Seetharaman who understands the complexities of global finance and business.

 

Looks like she may get adequate support from the new foreign minister who after retirement was put on probation in learning the ropes of international finance and trade at Tata Sons. This couldn't but have been done with an agreement between Ratan Tata and Narendra Modi. Possibly, Modi's first term taught him that he needed a foreign minister who could deal with global businesses as proficiently as he dealt with politics. And so, he must have organized Jaishankar's appointment on Tata Sons. 

(By M K Shukla & Rakesh Ranjan)

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Indianmandarins.com, an initiative of New Media Network, is a multi-media initiative for the fast and real-time dissemination of news and information related to civil services, central PSUs and other institutions that play a critical role in governance, administration, corporate governance, and public life in India. We aspire to provide our esteemed readers with news breaks and situation analysis in the above-mentioned domain of operations. Currently, we are available at www.indianmandarins.com. We are now planning to branch off into print publication and few other related business initiatives.