ISSSP Reflections


ISSSP Reflections cover a broad range of issues related to India’s national security, strategy, techno-political developments and global affairs. The platform offers authors an opportunity to reflect on relevant issues and challenge conventional wisdom by comprehensively covering the ‘Whys’ and ‘Hows’ of the debate.  Readers of the website are well informed and hail from the academia, scientific, policy-making and military services. Your arguments should be clear-cut, thought provoking, thoroughly analysed and seek to set the stage for more deeper and extensive debates. The articles should be brief and not exceed 1000 words.

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At the Gateway from East: Where do India’s Neighbours stand on the Belt and Road?

Seetha Lakshmi Dinesh | June 19, 2017

How do India’s neighbours look at the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative of China? What is the current politico-economic framework in the Bangladesh-China, Nepal-China and Sri Lanka-China relations? What could be the possible opportunities and concerns when the Indian neighbourhood takes the new road with China? How do they intend to take the initiative forward?

(Photo Source: Aajako khabar)

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Trump and the Broken Gulf: Will India be Able to Swim Through?

Shreya Upadhyay | June 13, 2017

In what has been termed as a step to “fight terrorism”, the three Global Corporation Council (GCC) countries– Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain- and Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Maldives recently announced their decisions to sever ties with Qatar accusing it for fomenting terrorist and sectarian groups, including the Islamic State and Al Qaeda. This article looks at the following: What is the US’ Response to the Crisis? Can this this lead to leadership change in Qatar? What role can India play in the recent Gulf Crisis?  (Photo Source: Reuters)

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Trump’s End Game in Middle East

Shreya Upadhyay | May 26, 2017

US President Donald Trump first international nine-day tour comprises three major religious capitals of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. With that, he chose to plunge straight into the middle East politics with sit downs in Saudi Arabia, Israel and Palestine. This article looks at Trump’s first diplomatic mission and analyse the contours of his endgame in the Middle East.

(Photo Source: Reuters)

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Kulbhushan Jadhav and the ICJ Verdict

Anna Catherine | May 25, 2017

The International Court of Justice (hereinafter ICJ) in its order indicated provisional measures in the Jadhav case (India v. Pak) on May 18, 2017, which the Indian media celebrated as a diplomatic victory. Notwithstanding Indian show of legal expertise in Hague, the military court of Pakistan could go ahead and carry out the execution of Jhadav in defiance of the ICJ’s order. This leads to two pertinent questions; (i) Will Pakistan budge? (ii) Is the execution of Mr. Jhadav inevitable?

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Findings of the Permanent Court of Arbitration: A Major Diplomatic Setback to China

R.N. Ganesh | July 14, 2016

25-nine-dashed-line-in-the-south-china-seaChina’s claims in the South China Sea are based on its “9-dash line”, which claims virtually the whole of the South China Sea. The 9-dash line is itself based on an ‘11-dash line” published by the Republic of China in 1947, (i.e., before the creation of the Peoples’ Republic of China), which has no valid historic, logical or legal basis. This claim predates the UNCLOS by several decades, and most of the countries of the SE Asian region were not even independent states at the time. China claims sovereignty over the South China Sea and has used military force to interfere with legitimate fishing and oil exploration activity by regional coastal states.  From 1970 the PRC reiterated its demands more aggressively when the Philippines began oil exploration off its coast. The Philippines began oil production in 1984, and today its offshore oil meets nearly 15% of its national requirement.

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Threats and Challenges in Countering Lone Wolf Attacks

Harsh Vasani | July 7, 2016

AQMI_FlagOn the 21st of May, in a new propaganda audio message released by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s media arm al-Furqan, the group’s spokesperson, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, urged sympathisers in Europe and the United States to launch lone wolf attacks on civilians in their home countries if they are unable to travel to the caliphate in Syria and Iraq. Adnani encouraged lone wolf attacks during the holy month of Ramadan, which starts early in June, “to win the great award of martyrdom”. This is not the first time the group has called for such attacks, and neither are these threats empty. Recent attacks in Orlando, Paris, Brussels, London, and California have proved that Western society is not beyond the reach of ISIS and that the threat of another such attack on western soil remains very real.

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Bangladesh in Limbo over Blogger Deaths

Sourina Bej | June 6, 2016

8CBCD629-95AA-41BF-9D66-140A3F3AE111_w987_r1_sThe string of blogger deaths in Bangladesh, since August 6 2015, has raised several questions. What picture does the attack on a small group of writers paint? What is the response of the government to these attacks? Is secular identity of Bangladesh under siege? Targeted in public place under broad daylight, hacked with machetes on the head or neck ensuring immediate death and roughly one victim every month; the pattern in the target killings of secular bloggers, liberal academicians and activists in Bangladesh is striking.

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Heavy Water leakage at the Kakrapar Nuclear Power Plant

Kaveri Ashok | June 2,2016

nuclear-power-plant_story_647_031116054750Kakrapar Atomic Power Station (KAPS) is situated near Vyara town of Gujarat. The campus houses two units of operational 220MW Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR), and two units of 700MW PHWRs under construction. The unit 1 was declared world’s best performing PHWR in 2003 by the CANDU owners group (COG). In order to better understand the March 11 incident at KAPS 1, this article attempts to contextualise the current incident within the history Heavy Water spills/leaks in similarly designed Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) in India.

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Myanmar’s Rohingyas: Power Struggle, Buddhist Assertion & Ethnic Divide

Albertina Nithya B. | May 31, 2016

Myanmar is a diverse society, but the Rohingyas are not part of the 135 registered ethnic groups. While one can state the overriding common sentiment of the Burmese to consider the Rohingya Muslims as illegal immigrants, the problem goes much deeper. The Rakhines are one of the dominant ethnic groups in Myanmar. Their ability to thwart a unanimous victory to the popular NLD in the Rakhine state demonstrates their considerable influence. The Rakhine National Party, created with the merger of Arakan League for Democracy and Rakhine Nationalities Development Party, resulted in the formation of the second largest ethnic political group in Myanmar. Thus it became prudent for any party meaning to establish government, to ensure a place in the good graces of one of the largest vote banks. The Rohingya issue became a political weapon to be wielded by parties to assert their power.

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The Madhesi Conundrum: Making Sense of India’s Stand

Sanjal Shastri | May 3, 2016

madhesi-647_111315044608It has been more than six months since Nepal’s new constitution was accepted; yet India has still not openly welcomed the constitution. The official Indian response has merely ‘noted’ the development. What is the reason for India’s approach? Why is the Madhesi community important for India? Did the Bihar elections have an impact? Does the RSS ideology have an impact on India’s stance? What are the implications of Prime Minister Oli’s visit? This commentary will try and address these questions. 

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DPP – 2016: A New Face of “Make in India” in Defence

Prakash Panneerselvam | April 18, 2016

downloadThe much awaited Defence Procurement Procedure – DPP 2016 was unveiled by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar during the inauguration of DEFEXPO – 2016. The DPP – 2016 is an important step in restructuring the existing defence procurement and acquisition policy. Over the last two decades the government has failed to find a solution to the existing problem in Indian defence acquisition process, leading to several delays in acquiring much needed modern weapon platforms by the Indian armed forces. To resolve the issue, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has taken extra care in restructuring the DPP 2016, which he views as an important component in achieving self-reliance in the defence sector.

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Peshawar to Charsadda: Is the NAP adequate to deal with the TTP?

Riffath Khaji | March 1, 2016 

terror-attack-in-PakistanLast month, the TTP made a deadly attack on Bacha Khan University in Charsadda. Despite the public anger against a similar strategy in Peshawar in December 2015 (the attack on Army Public School), the TTP seems to be continuing with its strategy. Is the TTP  targeting the mainstream education, or have chosen them, because they are soft targets? Why is the State in Pakistan, despite the NAP, unable to neutralize the TTP? With the NAP faltering, will there be more Taliban attacks in Pakistan?

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NTI’s 2016 Nuclear Security Index Report

Beenish Altaf | February 24, 2016

NSS 2014After encountering the frenzy and blazing debates on the repercussions of 2012 and 2014 NTI reports, the year is again open to the same heated arguments once again. Being a national of the South Asian country where the matter of nuclear security always remained an important issue, this article is an attempt to analyse the 2016 NTI Nuclear Security Index. The third edition of the NTI Report released in January 2016 is prepared in collaboration with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). This year’s report has a new addition to the index that is the sabotage ranking, which reviews the nuclear security environment in 45 countries based on potential sabotage risks. The theft ranking and sabotage ranking scores assesses the contribution of 24 states across five broad categories (1) Quantities and Sites, (2) Security and Control Measures, (3) Global Norms, (4) Domestic Commitments and Capacity, and (5) Risk Environment.

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PLA Rocket Force: Adding fuel to the Dragon’s ‘Fire’?

Mrunalini Deshpande | February 22, 2016

134970564_14516919993741nRecently China announced the upgradation of the PLA’s Second Artillery Force to PLA Rocket Force (PRF). Will the inclusion of nuclear and conventional ballistic missiles under the control of PRF make China lethal in terms of new warfare strategies? Is the Chinese End game aimed at keeping US on the edge? Will the PRF and Strategic Support Force be a game changer in terms of modernization of military forces? The new Rocket Force and the Strategic Support Force was announced in December 2015 by Xi Jinping, as part of the restructuring of the Chinese military. According to the Chinese reports, the PLA Rocket Force’s main mission, like that of the Second Artillery Force, will provide strategic deterrence with nuclear and conventional missiles under its control. Whereas, the Strategic Support Force is expected to provide proper electronic and cyber intelligence back up for the precision missiles strikes during war.

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Nepal: Why are the Madhesis not willing to compromise?

Sanjal Shastri | February 18, 2016

Nepalese policemen face protestors belonging to ethnic and religious groups dissatisfied with Nepal's new constitution adopted on Sunday, in Birgunj, a town bordering India in Nepal, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. Nepal’s top political parties on Thursday reached out to protesters angry about the country’s new constitution, after violence in the region bordering India halted more than 1,000 oil tankers and trucks with essential supplies from entering Nepal. (AP Photo/Ram Sarraf)

Rameshwor Raya Yadav, a Madhesi leader, responded to the recent Constitutional Amendment Bill endorsed by the Parliament as “positive to some extent” but still “it does not address the demands made by the agitating Madhesi parties in their entirety.” By terming the two amendments as incomplete, the Madhesis are closing the door on any possible compromise. Why are the Madhesi groups not willing to compromise on any of their demands? Aren’t bargaining and compromising not the key processes in any negotiation? What forms the basis of the Madhesi stand? The commentary looks into the uncompromising stand as a product of historical, geographic and geo political factors, which have greatly enhanced the bargaining power of Madhesi groups.

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Tracing HEU used for peaceful purposes

LV Krishnan | December 31, 2015

HEUraniumCMention of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) conjures up vision of a nuclear weapon. Uranium is called as HEU if the enrichment level is higher than 20% and Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) if it is lower. Natural uranium has an enrichment level of 0.7%.At the borderline enrichment level of 20%, it takes over a tonne of HEU to make a bomb, but at 90% it requires less than twenty kg. Appreciable amounts of HEU have been used in many countries for civilian applications, mainly to fuel research and test reactors. Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) helped set up the reactors in other countries and also supplied the HEU fuel. In recent years, with international assistance, many of these reactors have been redesigned to run on LEU fuel.

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The Iranian nuclear fatwa that never was

Arun Vishwanathan | December 11, 2015 

iran-supreme-leader-ayatollah-ali-khameneiIn the past, whenever doubts arose about the intentions of Iran’s nuclear program, the Iranian regime has been quick to point to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khomenei’s fatwa (decree) as a guarantee of Iran’s resolve not to pursue nuclear weapons. Despite these strident claims from the Iranian side, there have been doubts – much to Iran’s chargin – about the fatwa and the role it will play in reining in the Iranian pursuit of a nuclear weapons program. One of the reasons for these persistent doubts is that the fatwa has never been actually published.

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India and the CTBT negotiations

Arundhati Ghose | December 9, 2015

Amb GhoseAmbassador Arundhati Ghose provides an of the geopolitical and scientific context in which the CTBT was proposed and supported. She shares her reminiscences of the substantive interactions with the DAE on specific Articles of the Treaty and finally, her own conclusions drawn from my experiences of twenty years ago. This is the text of a speech prepared by Ambassador Arundhati Ghose to be delivered to senior scientists from various Indian scientific establishments at the NIAS-DST Training Programme on “Policy for Science and Science for Policies” held at NIAS, Bangalore on November 19, 2015.

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