By Ramananda Sengupta
'We do have a defence relationship with India, which is no secret. On the other hand, what is a secret is what is the defence relationship. And with all due respect, the secret part of it will remain secret.' - Mark Sofer, Israel's ambassador to India, in a recent interview given to OutlookIndia.com.
India and Israel were born within months of each other. While the former became an independent state on the 15 August 1947, the latter was born on the 14 May 1948, following the decision of the United Nations to partition British Mandate Palestine.
India, which had opposed this partition, remained officially cold to the Jewish state. In May 1949, it voted (in vain) against the admission of Israel into the UN. In early 1950, after recognising the State of Israel, a visibly reluctant New Delhi allowed it to set up an "immigration office" in the port city of Mumbai. This eventually morphed into a "trade office" and then into a consulate. But New Delhi dithered over according full diplomatic recognition to Israel until early 1992, when the two nations formally opened their respective embassies in Tel Aviv and New Delhi.
By Mohammad Abdullah Gul
Obama's recent jive with school children in Delhi symbolises the nature of the new relationship that is emerging between India and the United States of America: the US, it seems, dances to the tune of India. While it is true that Obama did not pointedly accuse Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism as was India's desire, some trends within this emerging US-India relationship have become more evident through his refraining from referring to Kashmir in any of his several speeches over three days. Such avoidance reflects a dangerous and unjust trend in US policy for the region in general, and, more particularly, for India and Pakistan. Deliberately not discussing the main cause of bitterness between Pakistan and India shows not only poor understanding of the nature of the conflict but also does not augur well for a harmonious and peaceful coexistence for the countries of the region; the fallout of the India-Pakistani conflict is noticeable in other countries of the region as well. Such ignoring of the Kashmir issue comes at a time when that territory is gripped by conflict like never before, and Kashmiri politics is being determined by an unprecedented political movement led by a young generation of Kashmiris. The US refusal to discuss Kashmir, then, is nothing but a callous disregard of the much trumpeted democratic values which the west vociferously espouses.
By Ramananda Sengupta
"Nervous China may attack India in 2012." That was the title of a recent column by Bharat Verma, editor of the Indian Defence Review, a respected quarterly published in New Delhi. Picked up and disseminated by Indian wire and news services, the article sparked numerous public and private debates in the country - not on whether Verma was correct, but on whether India was prepared for such an attack by its northern neighbour.
When the world's two fastest growing economies (even though China is way ahead in the numbers game; India's GDP per capita of $1016 pales before China's $6,100) prepare to face off, the rest of the world cannot but worry. The events in these nations will probably determine the world's future over the next decade.