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Posts Tagged ‘Indira Gandhi

This editorial in The New York Times of June 7, 2017 expresses serious concern at Narendra Modi’s intolerance of Free Press:

 

Press freedom in India suffered a fresh blow on Monday when the country’s main investigative agency raided homes and offices connected to the founders of NDTV, India’s oldest television news station. The raids mark an alarming new level of intimidation of India’s news media under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The story is a bit tangled, but here’s the gist: The Central Bureau of Investigation says it conducted the raids because of a complaint that NDTV’s founders had caused “an alleged loss” to ICICI, a private bank, related to repayment of a loan. In 2009, ICICI said the note had been paid in full. Not really, the investigators said: A reduction in the interest rate had saddled the bank with a loss — and hence the raid.

That doesn’t wash. India’s large corporations regularly default on debt with nary a peep from authorities. In fact, even as India’s state-owned banks are holding bad debt of about $186 billion, Mr. Modi’s government has hesitated to go after big defaulters. But suddenly we have dramatic raids against the founders of an influential media company — years after a loan was settled to a private bank’s satisfaction. To Mr. Modi’s critics, the inescapable conclusion is that the raids were part of a “vendetta” against NDTV.

Since Mr. Modi took office in 2014, journalists have faced increasing pressures. They risk their careers — or lives — to report news that is critical of the government or delves into matters that powerful politicians and business interests do not want exposed. News outlets that run afoul of the government can lose access to officials. The temptation to self-censor has grown, and news reports are increasingly marked by a shrill nationalism that toes the government line.

Through all this, NDTV has remained defiant. Last year, its Hindi-language station was ordered off the air for a day as punishment for reporting on a sensitive attack on an air base, but it stood by its reporting, insisting that it was based on official briefings.

Praveen Swami, a reporter for The Indian Express newspaper, warned on Twitter that Monday’s raids were “a defining moment,” adding: “The last time this sort of thing happened was during the Emergency,” a reference to the strict censorship of 1975-77 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency and ruled as an autocrat. Sadly, Mr. Swami’s warning is warranted. The Central Bureau of Investigation said on Tuesday that it “fully respects the freedom of press.” Even if that’s true, the question still outstanding is whether Mr. Modi does.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been preparing the ground for allowing US military presence on Indian territory. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter have been negotiating the issue for over a year and much advancement is reported to have been made. They jointly announced during Carter’s recent visit to New Delhi that India and the United States have ‘agreed in principle to share military logistics.’ The two, it appears, have decided to release only bits of negotiations periodically for fear of the possible strong reaction of the people of India towards allowing the US, or any other country for that matter, to use Indian territory for its military purposes.

It may start by establishing army repair shops in India. The two countries have almost finalised a Logistics Support Agreement that allows the two militaries to use each other’s land, air and naval bases for supplies, repair and rest. Both sides claim that this has become inevitable to ‘counter the growing maritime assertiveness of China.’

It has been repeatedly emphasised by both sides that there is no question of stationing US troops on Indian soil. ‘As and when a situation arises, like an earthquake or a natural disaster, that is when it is directed at’, Carter announced. Parrikar said, ‘it is a concept of logistics support’ to provide ‘support for each other’s platform where they need fuel and supplies.’ The Wall Street Journal has quoted an unnamed Indian Naval Officer as having said: ‘since coming to power two years ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has strengthened strategic and defence ties with the US, while avoiding the steps that could provoke a major reaction from Beijing.’ The Indian officer further said: ‘there is no ammunition involved, no combat operations. We are not talking about positioning men in each other’s countries.’

America has been coveting Indian territory for use of its armed forces ever since India got independence. Nehru resisted it diplomatically all his years as Prime Minister. He did not succumb to the pressure even when the Chinese assertiveness had ceased to be a mere perception but become real as that country had advanced its troops on Indian territory. Indira Gandhi virtually snubbed America during the Bangladesh war when that arrogant super-power threatened to destroy India with its legendary nuclear-powered Seventh Fleet. Even Atal Behari Vajpayee considered it terribly against the national interests of India to allow Indian territory to be used by a foreign power for its military activities. The Chandra Shekhar government had, though, allowed the US armed forces the refuelling facilities in India during the 1991 Iraq conflict and there were widespread protests within the country.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the UPA government was inclined to accede to the US request for closer military cooperation. However, Defence Minister A K Antony, reportedly with the full backing of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, stood firm against any military relationship between India and America, and was jeered at by pro-American sections as a Leftist.

Apprehensions in India about allowing military bases on its territory are based on the history of colonial period. The powerful nations had sought a foothold for some small military operation or commercial activity and had eventually occupied the host country.

During one of the visits of the US Defence Secretary to India, the USS Blue Ridge, the flagship of the US Seventh Fleet, was on a port call off Goa coast. The principal tasks of the USS Blue Ridge include providing command, control, communications, computers and intelligence support to the commander and staff of the US Seventh Fleet. Defence Secretary Carter took Defence Minister Parrikar on a tour of the USS Blue Ridge. Parrikar was said to be simply overawed by that majestic machine of destruction.

The US military experts estimate between 662 and 900 military bases in 38 countries. According to the official information provided by the US Department of Defence and its Defence Manpower Data Centre (DMDC), there are still about 40,000 US troops, and 179 US bases in Germany, over 50,000 troops (and 109 bases) in Japan, and tens of thousands of troops, with hundreds of bases, all over Europe. Over 28,000 US troops are present in 85 bases in South Korea, and have been there since 1957.

According to David Vine, Associate Professor of Anthropology at American University, Washington DC, who has specialised on US defence affairs, the Pentagon claims to have just 64 ‘active major installations’ overseas and that most of its base sites are ‘small installations or locations.’ But it defines ‘small’ as having a value of up to $915 million. ‘In other words, small can be no small.’

The information about troops abroad, too, isn’t completely clear, which ‘makes it difficult to know the true extent of the American military footprint,’ Professor Vine writes.

 

 

 

 


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Value of propaganda

Adolf Hitler believed in the use of propaganda as an integral element to seizing and holding on to political power. His maxim was 'the bigger the lie, the more easily it will be believed, provided it is repeated vigorously and often enough'. (Sean Murphy in his book 'Letting the Side Down')

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