The author is a former secretary in the external affairs ministry

A bout of Sinositis

The four-day Global Budhist Congress which commenced on November 26, with 900 attendees from 32 countries, instead of radiating Indian soft power, turned into an unseemly Sino-Indian row due to China postponing the 15th round of the Special Representatives’ talks on the border dispute. The fracas surprised South Block watchers as the Prime Minister’s national security adviser, Shivshankar Menon, also the Indian special representative, being a third-generation Sinologist, should have foreseen that an overlap of the two events would provide the Chinese an opportunity to retaliate when a series of recent events have made them lose face.

The Afghan question

Afghan President Hamid Karzai arrives in India at a crucial moment in the fate of Afghanistan and South Asia, because not only is it a member of Saarc but the window through which instability and invasions have poured into the Indian subcontinent since Alexander’s visit over two millennia ago.

Silence not an option

Come September, and New York readies for the chaos of hosting 100-plus heads of state/government congregating for the high-level segment of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been a reluctant attendee at a ritual less significant for leaders’ oratory than for the bilateral meetings on the sidelines and structured gatherings of the members of the Commonwealth, Nam, etc.
The United Nations Charter, drawn up in 1945, reflected the three concerns of the world at the end of the gruesome Second World War. The first was international peace and security as well as non-use of force.

The puppet and the puppeteer

The 10th anniversary of the 9/11 felling of the World Trade Centre (WTC) towers has come and gone leaving behind some heart-wrenching images — a father on one knee hugging the parapet of the water body boundary of the tower memorial, on which was etched the name of his son. Was this the end or still the middle of what that monstrous act represented? The WTC was first attacked in 1993, causing limited damage.

An epic needs a grand gesture

The Anna phenomenon has the government flummoxed, the world dubbing it India’s Arab Spring and Anna Hazare’s supporters heralding Gandhi’s re-birth. The ruling party, handicapped by Sonia Gandhi’s absence, erred in assuming that Mr Hazare could not revive his agitation after the government had dissipated his Jantar Mantar foray by engaging, pretending to negotiate and then discarding the Jan Lokpal Bill on the logic of a boss in the cartoon telling his disappointed employee that when he said his door was open, it did not extend to his mind.

Khar’s India googly

India-Pakistan parleys inevitably generate public interest, media hype and raised expectations, often followed by predictable denouement. Since 1991, dialogue has been repeatedly revived, nurtured and then interrupted, undermined by terrorism, the trail often leading to Pakistan.

Uncle Sam comes calling

Was the visit of US secretary of state Hillary Clinton to India on July 19-20 for the second India-US strategic dialogue spelling a downward spiral in relations or merely a return to normalcy?

Lifting the siege

What should be the role of media in a democracy? In India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh raised the question during his commiseration with five editors on June 29, remarking that their profession has become “the accuser, the prosecutor and the judge”. This way, he concluded, “no parliamentary democracy can function.

The nuclear reality

The nuclear issue is back to dog the United Progressive Alliance government. The 21st plenary of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), convening at Noordwijk, the Netherlands on June 23-24, undercut Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s assurances that the India-US nuclear deal would give India unrestricted access to technology,

Chess vs Wei Qi

Henry Kissinger’s book On China arrived in the capital’s bookshops on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of Tiananmen Square on June 6. Today, that episode may be a blip in the history of a country with a four-millennia-old civilisation and continuous nationhood since 221 BC. In 1989, however, it rattled China, brought into question Deng Xiaoping’s economic pragmatism

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