Pashtuns are one of the largest ethnic groups in the world who do not have their own country but straddle across a contiguous stretch of territory, across northern Pakistan and southern Afghanistan. They have been embroiled in wars with the British, invaded by the Soviet Union and suffered an almost two-decade long interference by the United States, albeit sometimes benign.
Although the title refers to ‘Southern Asia’, this masterly survey by Ashley Tellis focuses on three countries: China, India and Pakistan. In so doing, the author differs from other western scholars and analysts writing about nuclear deterrence concerning India, who take a dichotomous view of India’s dilemma, either India versus Pakistan or India versus China. Tellis rightly takes a trichotomous view because it is impossible to consider nuclear issues in South Asia in isolation from China.
Many Indian works analyse Pakistan, to understand this subcontinental neighbour. This book is an important addition thanks to the balanced, nuanced, and insightful perspectives offered.Sharat Sabharwal spent eight years in Pakistan (1995-99, 2009-13). Few in our Foreign Service have had similar lengthy exposure.
There is much in common between these six books. They all carry a subtitle, are inexpensive and light reading, though about a rather heavy topic; are tales simply told; and are about the lesser remarked aspects of war. Other than the one by Hisila, they have been penned by people other than the respective protagonists, with Punia having his daughter along as co-author. All are of stories in southern Asia, other than Punia’s which is situated in West Africa.
It goes without saying that China is India’s most important neighbour and India-China bilateral relations is the most consequential diplomatic engagement for India in the 21st century. Despite greater attention being paid to China in India recently, there is still not enough research and writing that would stand the test of time.
Myanmar gained Independence on 4th January 1948, less than five months after India. For both countries, therefore, this year marks the 75th year of Independence. Even before its Independence, Myanmar, then called as Burma, was a province of the British Empire in India and was ruled from Delhi till 1937 when it was made into a separate entity directly administered from London.
The origins of the current impasse in India-Pakistan relations are generally dated back to 2016 and since that year the relationship has descended progressively to even lower plateaus. The milestones of the process are well known. One dimension was major terrorist attacks such as at Uri (2016) and Pulwama (2019). Indian Counter Terrorism responses included a shallow cross LOC raid termed as a ‘surgical strike’ in Pakistan-controlled territory and a deeper air strike into Pakistan—the Balakot strike
The Liberation of Bangladesh in 1971 is one of the historic moments in the subcontinent’s history as the numerical majority decided to separate from the numerical minority. Bengalis supported the idea of Pakistan and were the first one to vote in its favour in the Bengal Legislative Assembly election. It was a Bengali, AK Fazlul Haq, who moved the Lahore Resolution that conceived the idea of separate ‘states’ for the Muslims in the North-Western and Eastern parts of the subcontinent.
In the last decade, there has been a palpable shift in discussions around the 1947 Partition of India and Pakistan. Renewed interest has inspired writers to conduct oral history interviews of people who lived through the period when borders were drawn to carve out the two dominions. The works of Devika Chawla, Anam Zakaria, Aanchal Malhotra, and Kavita Puri are cases in point.
One of the most momentous events of 2021 was the quick withdrawal of the American troops from Afghanistan. The irony of the event was that after spending two decades in Afghanistan fighting to eradicate the Taliban, the United States was unable to do so. When the United States withdrew from Afghanistan in 2021, it was the Taliban which was on the path to establish the new government. The authors argue that Afghanistan was the new Vietnam for the United States.
Rising to the China Challenge is an engrossing compilation of essays by authors of eminence and provides a comprehensive coverage of the economic issues that underpin the growing disparity in Comprehensive National Power (CNP) between India and China. Starting with the Galwan incident in 2020, the book states that the existing paradigm between India and China, where geographical disputes were isolated from economic interaction, is no longer tenable.
National security in India has been challenged by episodic events which can neither be treated as stand-alone events, nor ignore the heavier calculations that have adverse effects on the future. The book attempts to contextualize the national security challenges through a choice of ten flashpoints within two decades beginning with the 1998 nuclear test at Pokhran up to the Kashmir imbroglio, 2019 and the Chinese incursions of 2020.
So this was how they ought to be taught a lesson. This wasn’t an issue with major or big leaders though. They understood the present. They knew which way the winds blew, they knew that politics required different kinds of actions. One could compromise and reach an understanding with them.’Located in a fictional village near Dhaka, The Mercenary is Moinul Ahsan Saber’s attempt at satirizing the political unfolding that led to the creation of Bangladesh, erstwhile East Pakistan.
Seventy-five is an old age for a man but relatively young for a republic or state, even more so for our ancient nation. How has India’s foreign policy done since Independence in 1947?To answer that question, we must first establish metrics to measure success or failure. In India’s case that metric is obvious and simple: the extent to which we are able to transform the lives of Indian citizens so that they live in a prosperous, secure and modern state where every Indian has the opportunity to realize his potential. In other words, the transformation of India into what we want, not what we have.
In this 75th year of the existence of India as an independent state, the month of May brought on a cruel heatwave. Indians are accustomed to the difficult life, and heat has been, for large swathes of the country, a permanent fixture on the list of cruelties. Yet, no matter what methods we have devised to stave it off, the experience simply worsens by the year because of human induced climate change, and all methods fail to give respite.
This book analyses the impact of climate change in South Asia and its environmental and socio-economic fallouts. It looks at climate change in the region from an interdisciplinary perspective and recommends some policy measures for addressing climate change. The title of the book is interesting and suggests how South Asia is the most vulnerable region of the world to climate change.
Indian history has a thousand lessons to offer. Two of them stand out—not counting the one that says that those who don’t know history are condemned to re-live it. The first lesson is well-known: India is a tempting target for marauders of every kind. The second is less known: India is never quite prepared to defend itself. It is particularly slow at manufacturing weapons. Even today it imports them, a whole lot of them, acquiring in the process the dubious distinction of being one of the biggest importers of weapons in the world—and creating, as a result, a host of problems for itself.
Rajesh Kumar seeks to cover the broad canvas of India’s most important bilateral relationship i.e., with the US, in this book which examines the politico-strategic relations between the two countries from the early years of India’s Independence to the present.The author starts off by studying the period between 1947-1984 and examines how relations between New Delhi and Washington evolved during this period. However, by way of introduction, the author gives definitions of foreign policy, national interest, etc., which might be of little interest to erudite readers though it would be useful to students
India-China relations, since Independence 1947/Liberation 1949, have swung between romance and rancour. Romanticism was based on our shared civilizational interactions; rancour on the contradictions that emerged from the hard-headed practicality of two Westphalia states pursuing their perceived national interests as they have evolved over the last seven decades plus.
Two and a half years after Chinese troops amassed and transgressed points on the Line of Actual Control with India, there isn’t a definitive answer on just why Beijing carried out its aggression. Is this about history and reclaiming areas that once belonged to Tibet? Or is it in line with China’s present day ‘hegemonism’ that External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar alluded to, of the sort seen with Taiwan and in the South China Sea? Are the PLA’s moves to occupy land claimed by India, laying down bunkers and rolling in vehicles and equipment tactical—aimed at stopping the Indian Army’s considerable advances on border infrastructure, roads, bridges and landing strips?