Shankar Roychowdhury


India can’t be heard in the Syrian din

As events in Syria are overshadowed by “breaking news” elsewhere, what lessons can and should India learn from Syria? Clock and calendar alike are moving on, re-emphasising the iron fundamentals of international geopolitics — when the chips are down, you’re on your own.

Forbidden kingdom

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s congratulatory visit to Burma (May 27-29) to meet Aung San Suu Kyi shortly after her runaway electoral victory in the country’s parliamentary byelections of April was as much to convey his greetings and extend India’s fullest support to her personally, as to send a message to the government presently in office in Burma that if the relationship between the two countries is to proceed on a positive course, one important caveat has to be adhered to — Burma must continue to advance on the path of democracy.

Beware of the tiger on the mountaintop

The People’s Republic of China has once again hammered home to India its inflexible hardline on the status of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, considered by China to be their “lost territory” of Xhang Nan or Southern Tibet. A Chinese visa was recently refused to a senior Indian Air Force officer, a Group Captain from Arunachal Pradesh, proceeding to China as a member of an Indian defence delegation, on the grounds that being a resident of Arunachal Pradesh the concerned officer was actually a Chinese citizen and hence did not require a visa.

Delhi to Dhaka, with love

Looking back in the 40th year of independence of Bangladesh, the War of Liberation in 1971 in what was then East Pakistan can be militarily encapsulated into two stages, first as a predominantly low-intensity conflict of insurgency and terrorism by the Mukti Bahini, from around April to December of that year, and the next as a decisive, high-intensity conflict of two weeks, from December 3-16, in which the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force participated in support of the ongoing freedom struggle.

Friendless in Afghanistan

It is widely acknowledged that as the date for the American troop pullout in 2014 approaches, Pakistan’s concerns with securing Afghanistan as an area of “strategic depth” against India is intensifying and acquiring urgency. Support for their proxy allies, the Taliban, is being stepped up to “shape the battlefield environment” inside Afghanistan to Pakistan’s advantage prior to and during the run-up to the multi-lateral negotiations, so as to exercise maximum pressure in the hiatus that will precede and follow the withdrawal of American and other international forces.

The Nuclear Rubicon

The recent announcement by Pakistan regarding successful trials of its tactical nuclear weapon (TNW), the short-range (60 km) nuclear capable Hatf-9 — or Al Nasr — missile comes at a time when events in AfPak as well as inside Pakistan remain in uneasy equilibrium. It introduces an additional and potentially destabilising new factor into the Indo-Pak matrix.

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I want to begin with a little story that was told to me by a leading executive at Aptech. He was exercising in a gym with a lot of younger people.

Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen didn’t make the cut. Neither did Shaji Karun’s Piravi, which bagged 31 international awards.