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India must up its game in neighbourhood

Maneesh Pandeya



India’s growing global stature is giving sleepless nights to its neighbours, hence some occasional disturbances to rattle New Delhi’s calm is natural. After Nepal raised the map row with India, threatening New Delhi’s long-standing diplomatic ties with the Himalayan nation, now it is Pakistan’s turn to prick India. On Friday, Pakistan presented a new political map reasserting its claim to Jammu & Kashmir, minus the parts claimed by China, something which leaves no doubt that actually who’s is behind all this. From Kathmandu to Islamabad, it’s Beijing’s fast growing insecurity against New Delhi and its uneasiness at the thought of fighting a two-front war – one with India at the border and another a full-scale one with the US-led coalition in the South China Sea. Although Beijing has got into this position, where it’s fast losing its Asian giant tag and friendly nations now shifting loyalties, and is trying to play the same on India by “unsettling New Delhi’s multi-polar diplomacy dividends”. China is using its pawns — Pakistan and Nepal — to keep India “disturbed and diverted” from major issues, so much so that many in Asian media are anticipating that New Delhi “may be forced to face a two-front war”. A latest opinion piece in the South China Morning Post feared “such a situation coming for India, despite a lack of evidence that such a move is in the works”.

 India has rightly maintained the cool nerves, while it has spelt out its tough resolve against Beijing’s arbitrary expansionist agenda and hinted that it won’t budge and bow. It doesn’t need to feel disturbed as the great warriors plan the war much in advance; it’s time for New Delhi to be prepared for any eventuality, given that you are surrounded by two rogue nations — China and Pakistan.

 Islamabad’s release of the map is the latest in a series of conflicts born from cartography, which broke out in the Himalayas since May — from a deadly scuffle between Indian and Chinese soldiers in mid-June to a war of words with Kathmandu. Pakistan’s new map also comes on the first anniversary of the day India changed the status of Kashmir, much to the discomfort of Islamabad and Beijing.

These occasional rattling and raising of issues by China and Pakistan, along with smaller nations crucial to India like Nepal, will become a norm for which India must be prepared with “surgical diplomacy” to counter such threats.

 It is to be noted that China has not taken the “humiliation of Galwan valley” lightly. On the lines of the US-led Quad, Beijing reportedly hosted a first ever quadrilateral meeting with foreign ministers from Pakistan, Nepal and Afghanistan to step up its influence in South Asia amid unresolved border friction with India. Additionally, Beijing is also trying to leverage India cosying up to the US for future energy deals by getting close to Tehran. It is learnt that Beijing plans to pour $400 billion into infrastructure investment in Iran as part of a 25-year e c o n o m i c a n d s e c u r it y partnership. The report, which found its mention in The New York Times on 11 July, citing an 18-page leaked document on the plan, was however neither denied nor confirmed by China. But the global experts have not ruled out the possibility with strong intelligence now about China getting closer to countries that have direct links to India’s strategic affairs and diplomacy.

India is being watched globally and this is the time when it needs to open its diplomatic channels in the most productive manner. It must reach out to maximum nations worldwide, and be watchful and ready to take tough action against rogue nations.


Pesticides Management Bill 2020 will hurt farmers and agriculture

Krishan Bir Chaudhary



The Prime Minister has set an ambitious goal of doubling the farmer’s income by 2022. But the bureaucracy seems to be working otherwise as it is evident from the Pesticides Management Bill 2020 that was tabled in the Rajya Sabha during the Budget session earlier this year, and is likely to come up for discussion in the monsoon session of Parliament. If the Bill is passed by Parliament in its present form, it will do more harm than good to the farmers.

In 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare set up the Ashok Dalwai Committee for making recommendations on the doubling of farmers’ income. The committee recommended promoting domestic and indigenous agrochemical industries, R&D by Indian industries, banning import of formulations of agrochemical. The committee also recommended that export of agrochemicals from India be encouraged as there is a huge demand of In- dian generic agrochemicals in the developed countries. But proposed PMB, 2020 will increase the import of formulations, thereby forcing Indian farmers to purchase imported agrochemicals at a price 4-5 times costlier to save their crops.

Further, India exported generic agrochemicals of Rs 23,000 crore to the global market during 2019-20, which will be automatically finished if this PMB is implemented as proposed. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is therefore requested to pay attention to these negative impacts of the PMB if it is passed in its present form. Hence, it needs immediate amendments.

One of the provisions in the Bill gives powers to the Registration Committee (RC) and state governments to suspend, cancel or even ban usage of pesticides without scientific review. Such provisions could disrupt crop produce, its quality, and essentially the income of the farmer. Pesticide review is an important activity but it should be done by an independent committee under the chairmanship of Director General ICAR and members from Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Lucknow, Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad, National Chemical Laboratory Pune, Indian Universality of Chemical Technology Mumbai and others.

The role of the Registration Committee must be limited to data and registration. Moreover, CIB&RC or the proposed Pesticide Board should not have any jurisdiction on the manufacturing for exports, which is a subject to be dealt with by the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.

There are provisions in the Bill that farmers would have to obtain prescriptions from experts for purchasing pesticides. Now imagine the length and width of India as well as the number of farmers and diversity of crops grown by them — who is going to write prescriptions to the farmers. In fact, farmers will be facing trouble running from one place to another for prescriptions during crucial times of their crop management, when they need to apply pesticide to save their crops.

Moreover, the PMB does not state any requirement for the registration of a technical grade pesticide in India before registration of its formulations, thereby putting Indian farmers and Indian Generic Pesticide Industry at disadvantage. Such provisions will create monopolies of MNCs in Indian markets.

For example, Emamectin Benzoate for use in Bt cotton was earlier imported and sold at Rs 10,000 per kg by Syngenta, but then it was manufactured by domestic companies and sold at Rs 3500/kg. This would put immense pressure on the farmer to purchase ex- pensive formulations. How does this promote the vision of doubling farmers’ income?

In India, the farmer’s crop yield losses range from 15- 25% owing to the presence of weeds, pests, diseases and rodents. The Bill does not have any provisions for use of pesticides during an emergency in case of attack by invasive pests such as Fall Army Worms, Desert Locusts, White Fly, etc. Under PMB, the sale or usage of a pesticide can only take place after its registration with the RC. Also, the PMB 2020, if it gets Parliament’s nod as it is, would hamper the production and export of pesticides which are not registered for use in India. This would considerably create a negative impact on the ‘Make in India’ mission, at a time when there is a huge demand for Indian pesticides in the global market. The PMB ought to permit Indian firms to manufacture and export these pesticides, which will be creating job opportunities in the sector and easing foreign trade.

This bill, in its current form, is detrimental to the interests of the farmers and agriculture. This needs wider consultation; farmers need to be part of the consultation process.

The writer is President of Bharatiya Krishak Samaj. The views expressed are personal.

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Bollywood gets political

Priya Sahgal



The battle between Kangana Ranaut and Rhea Chakraborty camps was never just a Bollywood turf war. It was always much more, aided and abetted by a shrill media and other vested interests. In fact as you must have noticed, it’s become a fight between the Right-wing and the liberals. Not that one is surprised because in a ‘Modified’ era most conversations tend to go this way. And so we have channels subscribing to the Right-wing viewpoint targeting Rhea; while it was mostly the Left- of-centre anchors who got access to Rhea’s interviews. And Kangana is certainly playing to the script with her tweets claiming that she is Kshatriya, fighting the patriotic fight. Even before the controversy broke she was well on her way to becoming a Right-wing poster girl given her choice of movie roles, with films such as Manikarnika. Her battle against the Shiv Sena coincidentally ties in beautifully with the BJP’s gameplan to destabilise the current government in Maharashtra. If the Sena is targeting Ranaut, then the BJP government at the Centre is only too keen to give her Y class security. If Jaya Bachchan, a Samajwadi Party MP, and Urmila Matondkar, a former Congress candidate from Mumbai, are taking her on, then various BJP spokespersons are crying themselves hoarse defending Kangana. In the middle of all this, the Sushant Rajput death case seems forgotten. Instead, it is politics that has taken centre stage.

Kangana has since shifted to her Manali home. But that hasn’t stopped her from hijacking the Sushant case narrative. The case is now all about Kangana, those who support her and those who don’t. Is the stage being set for a political debut, one wonders. If so there’s little doubt as to which party she will join. The lines between Bollywood and politics have overlapped well before Kangana’s arrival on the scene. Don’t forget Akshay Kumar’s interview with the PM on the 2019 election eve; the PM’s meeting with actors in October 2019 including Shah Rukh and Aamir Khan; Anupam Kher’s many endorsements of the government’s policies and Aamir’s comment that he was worried about the rising intolerance in India after the Modi government came to power.

It’s not just the Modi government but the Congress too has been known to reach out to Bollywood to build its support base. We have all seen Amitabh Bachchan’s flirtation with various political parties from Rajiv Gandhi’s Congress to Mulayam Singh Yadav’s SP to Narendra Modi’s BJP. So in the end, all that Kangana is doing is playing an old game, but being Kangana doing it with a lot more hype and finesse than her predecessors.

She has the entire nation glued to her theatrics as she mulls a change in her CV. Should she be blamed for stealing the headlines from more pertinent issues? No, her forte is playing to the gallery. The fault is ours, from the media to the public. If the media is accused of overhyping the issue, then so is the public guilty for lapping all the salacious details, real or manufactured. Go to any grocery store, xerox centre or kiraana shop, and the topic of discussion will be Kangana versus Rhea. “Kangana is touching a chord with the public but it’s not just empty consumption. Whether its nationalism or the communal angle, she is able to touch upon all the pressure points that people feel,” said Kaveree Bamzai, author and columnist on the NewsX show, ‘Roundtable’. However she added, “It’s ironic that the narrative of nationalism and Hinduism was first hyped by Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra, the very people whom Kangana is now attacking. ”

Moreover, so long as the conversation is not about Covid mismanagement, unemployment, or the price of onions, this is a narrative that the government is only too happy to keep alive. Hence the select leaks from government agencies to keep the fires burning. This is playing right into their narrative of distraction. When asked whether a movie on the Sushant case was on the cards, Mayank Shekhar, film critic, retorted with a wry grin: “Which Bollywood blockbuster can compete with the 24-hour reality show that’s being played on our channels every night? But it hasn’t stopped there. Now a reality is being sold to the public that is completely different from reality TV. And because of this a 28-year-old girl and her brother are in jail. For what? For possible cannabis consumption? Not for peddling or possession. If this is the case then there is greater evidence to nail at least 25 percent of our male population on Holi.” He is absolutely right. 

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A battle to save democracy?

The famous Inchon landing by US marines 70 years ago this week marked the United States joining the ‘battle for democracy’ in Korean peninsula. Even as North Korea remains firmly Communist, democracy had no easy victory in the South, where the US’s role was at best ambivalent.




At Inchon, 50 km east of Seoul, South Korea, stands the main secretariat of Association of World Bodies (A-WEB). Established formally in October 2013, the Association aims majorly to “foster efficiency and effectiveness in conducting free, fair, trans- parent and participative elections worldwide”. During the Cold War, democracy promotion activities in Asia and Africa were an arm of US diplomacy. The disintegration of the Soviet bloc, and consequent termination of the Cold War, triggered a proliferation of electoral democracies around the world, already on growth curve since 1976. Samuel J. Huntington called the phenomenon “Democracy’s third wave” shortly before the Cold War ended. Since many of those nouveau democracies in third world suffered from institutional weaknesses, and scarcity of trained human resources, etc, multilateral electoral assistance bodies like International Foundation for Electoral System (established in 1987) and International IDEA (established in 1995) came into existence. The A- WEB, which has 115 institutions from 106 nations as members, is the newest and only one from Asia.

Asia’s first international electoral assistance body emerging out of South Korea should amaze us. It is true that South Korea became independent on 15 August in Parliament 1948 — exactly on the first anniversary of India’s Independence. However, where- as India has maintained an uninterrupted record of democracy, South Koreans had to wage a long struggle to reclaim it.

Syngman Rhee, President (1948-60), though democratically elected, made no secret of his authoritarian instincts. He held on to power beyond two terms through constitutional amendments. In 1952, he responded with martial law to the Opposition members who called for introduction of parliamentary form of government. During the Korean War (1950-53) he liquidated thousands of imaginary opponents on suspicion of being Communist agents. Even if one discounted Rhee’s regime, South Korea suffered two military dictatorships as well. Major General Park Chung Hee, who came to power though coup d’état of 19 May 1961, ruled until his assassination on 26 October 1979. General Chun Doo Hwan ruled between 27 August 1980 and 27 June 1987 before he was forced out of power by massive popular demonstrations. It was Hwan’s protégé and successor Roh Tae Woo, who notwithstanding his Army background, prepared South Korea for genuine democracy, leading a return to civilian rule of law, and allowing greater civil liberties. South Korea’s constitution had been repealed as a whole five times in 40 years between 1948 and 1987. Democracy in Korea is effectively as old as the Sixth Republic established in 1988.

South Korea, like Taiwan, is perceived as a test case where persistent economic growth under authoritarian regimes led to democratisation. The growing middle class played a palpable role in democratic agitations in South Korea. Official statistics show that South Korea’s economy grew at an average rate of 8.9 per annum between 1962 and 1987 under the two military regimes. While South Korea defeated military dictatorship to achieve democracy, it is speculative what the situation would have been if the country had passed under Pyongyong’s Communist rule in 1950. As the Korean War was triggered on 25 June 1950, the powerful North Korean army had an easy run of peninsula south of 38th parallel. Within three day, Seoul was overrun by the Communists, forcing the Syngman Rhee to evacuate his government to Pusan city on the eastern coast. By the first week of combat South Korea’s army depleted by around 75 percent. Of 98,000 troops commanding officers could account for 22,000 troops by the end of June.

The Korean War (1950-53) marks the first outbreak of hostility during the Cold War. The US, ironically, never budgeted for it, choosing to concentrate on defence of Western Europe instead. The Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, in his 12 January 1950 speech, had defined a “defensive perimeter”, wherein Korea was seen as by no means vital to America’s national interest. In fact, Korea and Formosa (Taiwan) lay outside the defensive perimeter.

South Korea’s capitulation to Communism was the last thing that President Harry Truman would have wanted. He was already frustrated at his inability to prevent China from going red in October 1949. The mission of General George C. Marshall, Chief of US Army during World War II, for a truce between Chiang Kai Shek’s Guomindang (Kuomintang) and Mao Ze- dong’s Communists in 1946 had ended in abject failure. According to Truman’s own doctrine (1947) the US would provide political, military and economic assistance to all democratic nations under threat from external and internal forces. It was, therefore, obligatory on the US to intervene in Korea peninsula where democracy was in imminent danger of being extinguished by Communist aggression.

Truman’s obvious choice fell upon General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Command of Allied Powers (SCAP), then based in Tokyo, overseeing the reconstruction of post-War Japan. He was called in to lead the UN forces. The UN military intervention in Korea was also the first in the history of mankind, where an organisation had mobilised force to halt aggression. It largely drew its combatants from the armed forces of the NATO member countries. General MacArthur (1880-1964), despite having crossed 70 years, chose to lead the war in person.

“Against the advice of his more orthodox superiors in Washington” says Henry Kissinger about MacArthur, “he landed American forces at Inchon (the port of Seoul), well over 200 hundred miles behind enemy lines, cutting North Korean supply lines with Pyongyong. The North Korean Army collapsed and the road to north lay open” (Diplomacy, P.480). Kissinger was referring to the Amphibian landing made by X Corps created by General MacArthur out of Army and Marine units from 15-19 September 1950. “We shall land at Inchon, and I shall crush them” were the words of the 70-year-old General. His plan went according to the script. The Inchon landing made history. Inchon, where the office of A-WEB secretariat stands, therefore acted as the launching pad of campaign touted as “battle for democracy”. The symbolism could not have been more evocative.

However, MacArthur, pursuing his two-fold military objective — punishing the aggressor in territorial terms; and, reunite nearly ninety percent of Korea under the authority of Seoul — took the war deep inside North Korea closer to Chinese frontier at river Yalu even against the advice of Washington. This provoked China to enter the war against the US-led forces on 26 November 1950. China’s vigorous counterattack again pushed the line of control 65 km south of 38th Parallel with Seoul falling into Communist hands. Almost three year were spent in that seesawing. The Korean War that began with easy victory for the US-led forces, ended in a stalemate on 27 July 1953 with both parties back to their original positions.

As Egyptians dislike Herodotus’ pontification that Egypt is gift of Nile, and prefer to call Egypt as gift of Egyptians, so South Koreans loathe seeing their democracy as gift of the US notwithstanding MacAr- thur’s bravery. While the US was against Communism, it would be an overstatement to say it was for democracy. In the aftermath of the war, Washington concluded military defence pacts with Seoul. It still maintains in South Korea tens of thou- sands of own troops as well as substantial air power, and provides massive aid to augment the South Koran army. The US has stood steadfast with military dictators. The democracy that South Koreans enjoy is their own achievement.

Late Ambassador Channing Liem, a supporter of Korean unification, said of South Koreans in 1992: “Though they remain wary of the communist North, they reject the anti-communist propaganda of their government and seek the truth. Nor do they trust the United States. The louder the US extols democracy, while backing dictatorial oligarchs in Seoul, the deeper their distrust becomes. In the face of such changed circumstances, it is incumbent upon the American people to join with Koreans in a critical re-examination of Korea’s Cold War history and to take stock of Korea’s situation today” (The Korean War: An Unanswered Question, P.2).

The writer is an author and independent researcher based in New Delhi. The views expressed are his personal.

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Sino-Indian logjam: Facts, risks, options and the sum of all fears

If winter is here, spring can’t be far behind for Indian Army to trounce China’s People’s Liberation Army. Indian forces should pay Chinese back in their own coin.




LAC standoff

China may be reinforcing eastern Ladakh with additional troops, but it does not realise that high-altitude warfare is vastly different. Why? Simple. Difference between political and professional armies. Isolated more than ever before, China is already in a trap of its own making. Now, Indian forces should hold tight, maintain a low profile but stay vigilant till winter sets in. Once winter sets in, they should start harassing the Chinese in the rear and spook them in the front.

Battle Indicators: Global Times’ videos indicate that PLA is rehearsing for an offensive. Air defence drills around Lhasa. Fibre optic cables being laid in Spangur. Early battle indicators. The real indicator will be dumping artillery ammunition and build up. When that happens, real business is afoot. Till then relax or chew your nails. Notwithstanding, since the Chinese are chafing to teach us a lesson. So what is in the offing?

Hardening Defences: Indian Infantry has dug in at the heights for two weeks. The defences are hardening and getting coordinated. It means overhead protection, stocking and obstacle laying. A defensive fire plan is evolving with IAF, Artillery, Tanks and Infantry Mortars in the mix. Selected and surveyed targets would be Chinese assembly areas, routes of ingress, forming up places(FUPs) for assault, enemy gun areas, HQs and more. Suffice to say that the Chinese will get a hell of a whack. The Chinese have focused on mechanisation by rote. That is contained in their White Paper as a doctrine. They did not realise that High Altitude warfare is vastly different. Why? Simple. Difference between political and professional armies.

I hope that Global Times’ editor is around to photograph hilarious Chinese sergeant majors blowing whistles and trumpets to commence ferocious attacks. His story will be different now — how drones used for food are being multitasked for body bag delivery. Everyone says that China will attack and teach India a lesson. Good. Let’s do some honest analysis.

Isolation Reinforced: After Wang Yi’s visit to EU states, Germany has opted on the side of democracies in the Indo Pacific region. That was inevitable. Indonesia refused to provide any bases for the Chinese. They are now objecting to Chinese transgressions in the Natuna Seas. The spat with Australia is worsening. India and Japan have signed a defence pact. The Taiwanese have warned that any more violation of their airspace will invite retaliatory action. There are reports which say that a Sino-US armed conflict is getting more real. China is more isolated than ever. Internally, Inner Mongolia continues to fester. Tibet is getting revived. Xinjiang issue is on the verge of revival. India can help both along. Hong Kong is not out of the news. The right time to ramp up the conflict with another Nuclear Power? Great Chinese strategic thinking.

Lebensraum and Persecuted Victimhood: Before Nazi offensives and pogroms, Hitler sold the ‘Lebensraum Dream’ and the ‘Persecuted Victimhood Complex’ to Germany. Something similar is happening in China. Initially Xi Jinping sold the ‘China Dream’, pronounced a period of great strategic opportunity and started building the greatest military on earth. He brainwashed Chinese that the CCP way was the best during the Wuhan Virus crisis. Pogroms against the Uighurs are well documented. He has spoken of solidifying Tibet security and communising religion. Wayward Hong Kongers are brought in line. He pronounces that China will follow the Communist economic model come what may. He popularises himself with people by visiting them during floods. He is invoking people to overcome hardships due to denial of technologies – imported seeds for agriculture, critical components in manufacturing, dependence on oil imports, distribution of water resources and pharmaceuticals and medical equipment for an ageing population. The position of the CCP inside China is being constantly consolidated.

The emerging picture — ‘Persecuted Victimhood Complex’ of China being denied and pushed into a corner by a disintegrating and inimically jealous world. External picture. China is ordained to rule the world. Only China can win — at any cost. Every one falls in line. Political, economic, diplomatic or military coercion works, always and every time. China will expand based on some mythological irredentism. ‘Aggressive Lebensraum’. The world, ravaged by the Virus from China is being herded into a corner to establish Chinese supremacy. Everything is Xi centric to rule the world. A bipolarity is emerging. Internal portrayal of being unfairly cornered and an external reality of coercively cornering everyone. Such a diabolic schism was last seen in Hitler’s Germany. Nitin Gokhale was right. The transformation to Xitler is complete. We should know who we are dealing with. “The Man Who Would Be King” not by Rudyard Kipling!

Xitlerian Concept: In the Xitlerian concept, India has no right to defend itself. It must subjugate itself to the lord and emperor of the great Chinese people. If not, be prepared for punishment. The great PLA will defend every inch of Chinese terri- tory recently usurped from India by attacking and punishing India for India asking vacation of its territory. The Idea is to take what it wants. Force an unequal piece. After all, China is the greatest. Are there risks and options in this new one sided game? 

Risks: There are four risks in this attempt to teach India a lesson. Firstly, with the available troops India can- not be taught a lesson. The fight will be long, hard and bloody. Everything will be at a cost. That cost will be collected by the US in the South China Sea who will not miss the opportunity. A firefight starts there. Taiwan could declare Independence. End of superpower China.

Secondly, after the bloody battle, even if India is defeated, the long guerrilla campaign will start. Tibet and Xinjiang will be in flames. Srinagar Valley is only 15948 Sq km. Tibet is 1.22 million Sq km and Xinjiang is 1.6 million Sq km. See the difference? China, of the nose bloodied, will have to commit a lot more of PLA to handle the situation on a real long term basis. Its entire global plans go for a toss.

Thirdly, there are very good chances that China will be taught a lesson. In fact I am confident that could happen. If they start a shooting match and India finishes it, the next stop could be Rudok. That will automatically put Tibet and Xinjiang aflame. It could also end with the CCP control over society and lead to a collapse. Fourthly, what hap- pens if China cannot force victory? The saga of defeat continues. Pakistan has the best Army never to have won a war. China will compete for that honour with its rusty iron brother. Whichever way it goes, China’s dream will evaporate. Guaranteed. Risk a war? Go ahead China. You might collapse. BTW, when does the N factor kick in?

Options: China is reinforcing eastern Ladakh with additional troops. The area can hold that many troops only. Any further increase will diminish returns. Secondly, mountains are good for defenders. It is difficult to dislodge entrenched defenders unless there are repeated headlong attacks. China has to also decide where to attack. North of Pangong Tso or South of it. (see picture) North of Pangong Tso offers some scope for employment of armour in the Depsang Plains. However it is a shooting match without manoeuvre space. There is a fair bit of mountainous area North of Pangong Tso also. India can play some tricks, infiltrate and reverse the situation. While it may be feasible to get hold of some territory there is a good chance of losing it too for the Chinese. The key to the whole affair will be the Chusul Gateway, South of Pangong Tso. Can China dislodge us from the strategically important Kailash Range? In an area devoid of cover and a single avenue of approach the attacker is exposed (see picture — 3d view of area beyond Spangur). Headbutting will be very costly. Results will be minimal. Of course, China can expand into other sectors further South. In which case its commitment and imbalance will expand. It will slowly be sucked in and stretched to a point when a counter offensive will happen. Where? Has to be decided between USA and India. The short point is that China is already in a trap of its own making. So far China has used Sun Tsu’s maxim of winning wars without fighting. This is one war they will have to fight to win but will lose. Want to be a superpower? Bleed a little on the battlefield.

Own Option: What should we do? Hold tight. Till winter sets in maintain a low profile. Stay vigilant. Do not get complacent. The enemy is desperate. Do some talking. Stall for time. Play the Chinese game. Two steps forward and no step back. Once winter sets in, start harassing the Chinese in the rear and spook them in the front. Imbalances and opportunities will surface. Incremental actions to attain tactical and strategic significance or opening up offensive options will be of great value. Create small criticalities. No Hurry. Patience. Vigilance. Go for the kill. A discredited PLA will do greater damage to China. Their soft frontline troops should be targeted. They are our Centre of Gravity. Up front within reach. Mountains offer great manoeuvre space. Develop offensive options. Beyond the Kailash range there are no great obstacles or ridge lines till Rudok and the Western Highway. The Pangong Tso gives a secure flank. At some point we must go on the counter offensive. We need to generate some options to force a recoil. I might sound outlandish. However think coolly. We have their measure. Occupation of the Kailash range has opened up options. Exploit it. They have no defences or a firm base. There are three avenues of approach to hit the Western Highway (G219) look at the map. Manoeuvre through the hills. Force them into defence. Hats off guys. Well done.

Story of India: I need to tell a story. Summer of 99. Op Vijay broke out. My regiment (all Rajputs ) was mobilised overnight from the Eastern to the Northern sector. A number young soldiers on completion of post recruit training were posted to make good our strengths. All of them reported to Siliguri. Around a dozen of them with a couple of NCOs retuning from leave were dispatched to join the regiment in the staging area. War rumours were abound. At Delhi railway station, two young soldiers (from neighbouring villages) gave the slip and went AWOL. They went home and told their mothers that they came on leave. One of the mothers suspected something unusual and quizzed her son. Out came the AWOL story. She gave him a couple of tight slaps, took him to the other village and told the other boy’s mother about it. She in turn slapped her son. How could they become AWOL from the regiment when the nation was at war? One village elder was entrusted to deposit these young soldiers with the unit. He brought them to me and said: “CO sahab inko maaf kar dena. In dono ka mathaon ne inke saath bahut gussa kiya. Rajputon ka be-izzati ho gaya. Desh ka Rak- sha karna hamara kartavya hai. Bcahhe hain. Inko asli Rajput banao aur ladai mein sabse aage le jao.” That was that and life went on. When I last visited the unit those ‘boys’ are now experienced and tough gunners and junior leaders.

The Sum of All Fears: Indian mothers will send their sons to war as a matter of IZZAT and Desh ki Raksha irrespective of caste, creed, Arm or unit. Phillip Mason called it a ‘Matter of Honour’. This spirit of sacrifice is deeply ingrained in Indian blood streams even now. It was on display in Galwan. A country which has such deep-rooted patriotism cannot be defeated by some soft ‘one child Chinese’. Why am I recounting this story? Have faith in our men they will deliver. The sum of all my fears is that some weak bellied and ill-informed politician or diplomat will develop cold feet and fritter away the gains during negotiation. That is our history. We felt diplomacy and international stature will guard the Sino Indian border in 1962. We gave back Haji Pir in 1965. We gave back 93,000 prisoners in 1971. We even went about saving Chinese ‘face’ during Doklam despite stopping them in their tracks. How wrong were we? Totally. There is a palpable fear swirling around that some jittery character will give away everything we have gained by blood sweat and tears. ‘Status Quo Ante’ of April has lost value. The Kailash Range should not be traded at any cost. It is ‘off table’ in all negotiations. We need to look at a new status post ante. That should be northwards into Aksai Chin! Stay tight. This is a defining fight for India. There is more on the cards. The Chinese need a lesson and we will give it to them. Rub their ‘face’ in.

Pakistan Preoccupation: Where are the Pakistanis? Aah! Pak Generals… Lost half their country. Partner- ing with them, the US lost its war on terror. Their advice cost the Saudis two oil- fields. They are now advising Chinese. Any guesses? Well these deep state worthies of the frontline nation are at their frontline at Papa John’s having a board meeting of their remunerative businesses with Dawood as special consultant. What is on their menu? Chinese! What about war fighting? That is for idiots.

Lt Gen P.R. Shankar was India’s DG Artillery. He is highly decorated and qualified with vast operational experience. He contributed significantly to the modernisation and indigenisation of Artillery. He is now a Professor in the Aerospace Dept of IIT Madras and is involved in applied research for defence technology. His other articles can be read on his blog www.

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Taxing Fantasy Sports in India: A grey area that needs clarity

The legality of these sports brought a completely new aspect of them into the eyes of the law enforcement with regard to the taxation that should be applied with regard to these games. The law enforcement split the online gaming sector into two parts—one being the tax to be paid by the individual who wins an amount in the game, and the other to be paid by the company which provides for the platform of gaming.

Shubhendu Anand & V. Sai Shashank



The authorities read Section 15 of the CGST act and the Rule 31A(3) of the CGST rules 2017 together thereby resulting in a situation where there are exorbitant amounts of tax on online gaming sites. The authorities fail to notice that online gambling is not similar to the situation of horse racing or other actionable claims of the similar nature. The concept of online sports or DFS have a completely different structure and hence have to be taxed separately from the other physical forms of actionable claims.

The grey area needs to be given some clarity either by the judiciary or by the legislature or this has potential to lead to a situation where the tax authorities charge large amounts as tax and that in turn adversely impacts a budding business. The government has to be careful and make sure such entry barriers are not created as these can also lead to other situations such as only one or two companies who have a lot of capital being able to dominate a market such as this thereby killing the competition.


India has seen a surge in on- line gaming and Daily Fantasy Sports in the recent few years. After the Judgments of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in K. R. Lakshmanan v. State of Tamil Nadu various High Courts on fantasy sports and online gambling being a game of skill and hence being legal the popularity of such sports went up in large amounts in the country. The legality of these sports brought a completely new aspect of them into the eyes of the law enforcement with regard to the taxation that should be applied with regard to these games. The law enforcement split the online gaming sector into two parts one being the tax to be paid by the individual who wins an amount in the game and the other to be paid by the company which provides for the platform of gaming. The former being governed under Section 194B and 115BB of the Income tax act and the latter by Section 15 of the Central GST act and Rule 31A(3) of the GST rules. We will discuss in detail about how the following acts will fall under this section, how much tax will the following parties have to pay and how since GST is a fairly new law this grey area might seem a little problematic to the parties.

Goods and Services Tax focuses mainly on the ‘supply for a consideration by a person in the course or furtherance of business’ and such aspects of various companies.

‘Does this concept of online gaming fall under the term supply?’

The term supply is defined very broadly and is given a lot of scope so as to ensure that nothing gets left out. The term supply is inclusive and it also includes deemed and declared supply under the schedule I and II of the Act. Section 7 of the act defines Supply as

(a) all forms of supply of goods or services or both such as sale, transfer, barter, exchange, licence, rental, lease or disposal made or agreed to be made for a consideration by a person in the course or furtherance of business;
(b) import of services for a consideration whether or not in the course or furtherance of business;
(c) the activities specified in Schedule I, made or agreed to be made without a consideration; and
(d) the activities to be treated as supply of goods or supply of services as referred to in Schedule II.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section
(1),–– (a) activities or transactions specified in Schedule III; or
(b) such activities or transactions undertaken by the Central Government, a State Government or any local authority in which they are engaged as pub- lic authorities, as may be notified by the Government on the recommendations of the Council, shall be treated neither as a supply of goods nor a supply of services.
(3) Subject to the provisions of sub-sections (1) and (2), the Government may, on the recommendations of the Council, specify, by notification, the transactions that are to be treated as— (a) a supply of goods and not as a supply of services; or (b) a supply of services and not as a supply of goods.

Here Section 7(1)(b) talks about import of services for a consideration whether or not in furtherance of a business. Post the courts in India declaring the online games legal, they started registering as business entities who provide the service of gam- ing for the consideration of a registration fee. For example the registration fee that is paid to enter a room in a on- line poker game is a consideration that is paid for play- ing poker and the company that facilitates the playing of the game becomes the sup- plier of the service (i.e. the games). Since this platform of online gaming is considered as a supplier it in accordance with the GST is liable to pay tax for supply. Every supplier whose aggregate turnover is a financial year exceeds 20 lakhs rupees is required to be registered. So, in case of online games as well if the proceeds ex- ceed 20 lakhs rupees, the platform is to be registered. As till date platforms conducting online games are not included in the category of compulsory registration, they can enjoy the threshold exemption as long as they do not touch 20 lakhs as an aggregate turnover and thereafter follow the procedure prescribed under law.

‘What Is the value and amount or bracket of GST that has to be paid by these companies?’

As per section 15 (1) of the CGST Act the value of supply of goods or services shall be transaction value, which is the price actually paid or payable for the said supply of goods or services. This is where the problem arises with regard to businesses such as online sports or DFS. In the online games the platform charges a fixed amount from the player out of which a certain portion is ploughed back to the player in form of incentives, prizes, rewards etc. For example, if a game charges Rs 10 as registration, it, at the end of the game, pays Rs 6 as a reward and keeps the rest for itself as the cost of supply. Now how much of this can be taxed as GST and will the amount that is returned as the price be charged under GST or under Section 194B and 115BB of the Income tax act.

To answer this we need to look at Section 15 of the GST act very closely.

Section 15 (1) reads “The value of a supply of goods or services or both shall be the transaction value, which is the price actually paid or payable for the said supply of goods or services or both where the sup- plier and the recipient of the supply are not related and the price is the sole consideration for the supply.”

The Section reads as the “price actually paid or payable for the said supply of good and services or both”. Here it is important that one stresses at the term ‘actually paid’. So here it means the amount that is left with these gaming companies post the distribution of winning prices that is actually used to run/ conduct the competition is what is the price that will be charged under Section 15 at the rate of 28% but this does not end here. With regard to online gaming, Section 15 of the CGST act is read with Rule 31A(3) of the CGST Rules of 2017.

This rules reads as “The value of supply of actionable claim in the form of chance to win in betting, gambling or horse racing in a race club shall be 100% of the face value of the bet or the amount paid into the totalisator.”

The authorities read Section 15 of the CGST act and the Rule 31A(3) of the CGST rules 2017 together thereby resulting in a situation where there are exorbitant amounts of tax on online gaming sites. The authorities fail to notice that online gambling is not similar to the situation of Horse racing or other actionable claims of the similar nature. The concept of online sports or DFS have a completely different structure and hence have to be taxed separately from the other physical forms of actionable claims.

Since the concept of DFS and other online sports is very new in India and there isn’t much clarity on their structure of operation, there is a grey area which is created in enforcement of law wherein it is not clear as to under which section shall tax be levied on such acts. The authorities here have turned this grey area into an opportunity to read both sections together so as to charge larger amounts of tax on this budding field.

Once this money is taxed, the Income tax department also charges the amount of winings under Section 194B and 115BB of the Income tax act from the winner/player/ user of the online gaming site. It is very important here to reiterate here that a portion of the money that is used to place a bet and used to file the registration fees is only used by the online gaming site as rewards that is sent back to the players. This becomes a case of double taxation solely because of the fact that the authorities charge tax under Rule 31A(3) of the CGST rules 2017. This is so because this rules takes tax from the bet that is placed by the Player and then the authorities also tax the winning of the player, thereby charging the player twice.

‘Does this amount to double taxation and is that valid in law?’

The authorities will at this point either have to forgo charging the tax under Section 115BB and 194B or under Rule 31A(3) so as to avoid this situation of double taxation. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Uttar Pradesh v. Raze Buland Sugar Co. Ltd. held that the principle that is applicable in tax statutes is that the income is subject to tax in the hands of the same person only once. Thus, if an association or a firm is taxed in respect of its in- come the same income can- not be charged again in the hands of the members individually and vice versa”.

The Hon’ble apex court in the case of CIT v. Damani Brothers held that, “…There can be, no dispute that double levy of interest is not permissible. But this principle is applicable only when the interest is chargeable more than once for the same set of refractions. If the provisions under which interests are charged operate in different fields, there is no statutory bar on levying the interest because in essence it does not amount to double levy of interest but levy of interest separately for different refractions.”

Now both these Judgments talk about how taxing the same individual twice is not sound in law, but do the authorities ‘on paper’ tax the same individual twice?

Technically the bet that is placed by an individual goes to the company that runs the online gambling site which in turn returns all this bet money to the winner of that game. The tax authorities tax the gambling company 100% of the bet amount under Rule 31A(3). Here it is very important to notice that the online gambling sites are not allowed under law to make any profits out of the betting activity any such profits will be illegal. What the gambling companies do at this point is that they make profit through other sources such as advertisements. They merely rotate the betting amount by collecting it and finally giving it to the winner as rewards. So when the tax authorities charge the company under Rule 31A(3), on paper they charge the company but then the source of that income is actually the player/ user himself. This isn’t entirely fair on the company because they are not allowed to hold back any of those funds either and hence most of these companies have to end up paying exorbitant amounts as taxes.

This grey area needs to be given some clarity either by the judiciary or by the legislature or this has potential to lead to a situation where the tax authorities charge large amounts as tax and that in turn adversely impacts a budding business. The government has to be careful and make sure such entry barriers are not created as these can also lead to other situations such as only one or two companies who have a lot of capital being able to dominate a market such as this thereby killing the competition. Hence it is necessary that the government come up with some clarity on this regard so as to set a fixed amount of tax for this sector of online sports.

(Shubhendu Anand is Part- ner, Atharva Legal LLP. V Sai Shank is a final year law student at SASTRA University, Thanjavur.)

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Legally Speaking

Democracy, politics and hate speech

Anu Bhuvanachandran



Post-colonial India has earmarked in the Preamble of its Constitution that the nation is Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic, Justice, Liberty and Equality. The term democracy has grown to the extent that for running a government, to win the elections, the proposed representative of the people of India contesting for election took free license to discriminate any group, defame any set of people and even to the extent to express hatred towards a particular group in open without hesitation. Once this desert was in thirst of freedom; now it is spilling back to ocean.

The scope, demand and utility of hate speech arise often a year towards elections and wholly shuts on the final day of election campaign. Hate speech is not just limited to this. Whenever an issue arises in the state or at central level the same hate speech works. It is to look that whether hate speech resolve the issue on which the hate speech sprouted out. In fact democracy thrives on disagreements provided they do not cross the boundaries of civil discourse.


Indian Law has no definition for hate speech. But the meaning of the term can be carved from various acts recognized as offences such as sedition, promotion of enemity between different groups on grounds, imputations and assertions prejudicial to national integration, deliberate and malicious act based on religion, sex, race, place of birth etc.; rumour or report causing public mischief under the Indian Penal Code; acts disqualified under several legislations such as the Representation of the People Act, 1951, provisions penalizing incitement to and encouragement of untouchability under the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 etc. Drawing from the available sections and essence intending to portray hate speech; it is expressly targeting a particular group based on geography, religion, sex, place of birth or any other discriminating factor, for the purpose of winning or achieving the target socially, economically and politically.


In a democratic system of governance, it is “for the people, of the people and by the people”. Theoretically, democracy is a dividend of utilitarianism but the practice have put shrugs on the theory rather than giving wings. Democratic system of governance shows green card for representation of the people and public interest governance in consonance with the public laws of the land. Public laws are for protecting the public interest and whoever wins the public interest would survive and be empowered to decide the governance for the future.

Winning public interest in the modern times is tedious hence crafting dummies to make the people believe and trust that the government which hails in future would actually meet the public interest. India is a country with multiple political parties where the two to three are strong enough to grow and secure monopoly in any near future. Hence there exist a tough competition to win the hearts of many through winning the public interests across the nation.

Since achieving every single public interest is cumbersome; pointing towards the flaws of ruling party which may or may not have a religious back up and flaming the emotions of the public at large through continuous hate speech was a trend in early nineties and the immediate years of second millennium. Hate speech was therefore procuring a wide scope with respect to democracy in India.


As the ruling party and the opposition gave thrust on hate speech and rending unfulfilling promises to the public, the parties started achieving governance for some period. Afterwards the public intensified their protests for hate speech and raised their grievances to the court of law, the judiciary recognized the actual need for preventing and implementing penalties for hate speech.

The judicial intervention can be remarkably traced initially in the landmark case of Brij Bhushan v. State of Delhi in 1950 where it was opined for constitutional amendment to insert public order as a ground under art. 19(2).

Thereafter in Ram Manohar Lohiya v. State of Bihar [1966], the apex court portrayed observance of three concentric circles that is law and order with widest radius, followed by public order and finally the security of the state. On hate speech the law and order is undoubtedly affected due to the aggressive emotions raised between people and the consequential riots and protests. Due to the same, there occurs loss of public order and hence it extends higher probability to challenge and affect the security of the state. Hence the three concentric circles are achieved. Once the security of the nation and the law and order of the state gets affected by a trend, it will have to demarcate as an offence under appropriate law and the punishment shall be implemented. The Lohiya case was stood on violation of grounds under article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution.

Ramji Lal Modi v. State of U.P is another milestone to identify the defects of hate speech which was a trend during those days. But in Ramesh v. Union of India, the court indulged that a movie that intends to impart a message of peace cannot be considered to violate 19(1) (a) just on the ground that it shows fanaticism and violence in order to express the futility of such acts.

In 2014 vide case Pavasi Bhalai Sanghatan v. Union of India the Supreme Court requested the law commission to examine the issues raised pertaining to hate speech and make recommendation to the Parliament to strengthen the Election Commission to prevent hate speech in that respect.

The tremor of hate speech was spread throughout the nation in a modernized manner during the historic judgment in Shreya Singhal v. Union if India [2015], where the Supreme Court held section 66A is unconstitutional. The court analyzed this case and has drawn differences between discussion and advocacy from incitement and held that it is the essence of article 19(1) of the Indian Constitution.

It can be seen that the judiciary is crafting and winding wires of restriction in accordance with technology, modernization in the society and public perspective.


penalizing hate speech in pre-law commission report can be checked in a flash of time. The Indian Penal Code 1860 is the document that penalizes several aspects contributing to hate speech. Section 124A penalizes sedition. Section 153A penalizes promotion of enmity between different groups on the ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc. and doing acts against the maintenance of harmony. Section 153B penalizes imputation and assertions prejudicial national integration. S.295A penalizes deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion and religious beliefs. In addition sections 298 and 505 cover difference aspects of hate speech. Apart from the Penal Code, section 8 of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 disqualifies a person from contesting election if he is convicted for acts amounting to illegitimate use of freedom of speech and expression. Section 123 and section 125 prohibits promotion of enmity on grounds of religion, race, caste, community or language in connection election as a corrupt electoral practice and prohibits it. Section 7 of the Protection of Civil Rights Act penalizes encouragement of untouchability through words, signs or visible representations. Section 3(g) of the Religious Institution Prevention of Misuse Act 1988 prohibits use of place under religious institution for creating disharmony, feelings of enmity etc. Further sections 95, 107 and 144 empowers District Magistrate and state government to take measure on actions contributing to hate speech which are recognized as offences under the Penal Code.

Post Pravasi Bhalai Sanghatan case, a committee was constituted by the Law Commission to study the issues on hate speech under the chairmanship of Justice B.S. Chauhan. The Committee suggested amendment of Indian Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure which are incorporated in 2017 criminal law amendment. Let’s look at a glance on the same. Section 153C and 505A is inserted which deals with prohibiting incitement to hatred and causation of fear, alarm or provocation of violence in certain cases purporting to hatred. Amendment of 1st Schedule of the Cr.P.C has been made in the criminal law amendment.


No. It is there but in indirect form. It can be noted that the parties are now keen on spitting hate to a particular individual and therefore the defamation cases are increasing in the political sphere. In fact laws are not only the factor that can prevent hate speech, it is the mannerism of the system and the attitude of people in the parties who use hate speech tool must change. When the present situation is looked telescopically, I find that a new trend is emerging in democracy for winning the chair of governance. It is nothing but doing a part of promise which is made during the election campaign, rather than to throw spears of hatred to each other. The present trend is benefiting a few section of the society at least.

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