Saturday, April 26, 2014

Post-Modernism vs. Realism . . . in the Game of Thrones

Well, maybe it is a bit unfair to use this.  After all, the Game of Thrones represents a world that is so Realist that it's almost a parody . . . a harsh and unforgiving environment where every moment could be your last and where, as one character declares, "you either win or you die." There are lots of dialogues and declarations that would warm a Realist's heart, many (as the one above) by the Queen of the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms Cersei Lannister, a woman whose only redeeming qualities -- according to one of her brothers -- is her love of her children and her cheekbones.  But I was particularly struck by another dialogue she features in because it so neatly captures at least one Realist response to post-modernist/post-structuralist argument about the relationship between power and knowledge.  A more sophisticated response would go back to E.H. Carr and other Realists who understood the material bases of knowledge-creation.  But I'll leave that for another post.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Opinion piece on small arms production

Aaron Karp and I co-authored an opinion piece based on our recent paper for the Small Arms Survey, Geneva [please see the previous post] on Indian small arms production.  It was published by Economic Times on April 22.  But oddly, and much to my embarrassment, Economic Times listed me as the author and consigned Aaron's name to the end of the article. I do not understand why the editors did that or why they put it under my name, considering that the essay as sent to Economic Times listed Aaron as the first author and he deserves full credit for the piece.  Below, I have reposted the article, with credit duly acknowledged.
[Edited: Economic Times has now -- as of Saturday, April 26, 2014 evening -- corrected its online edition, acknowledging both of us as authors]

Defence Modernisation: A Revolution in Indian Defence Procurement

Aaron Karp and Rajesh Rajagopalan

Firearms often get overlooked in discussions of military procurement policy. But with the procurement of nearly 6 million Indian military and police weapons due, the total value is anything but small, as are broader implications for Indian defense policy.

In a study, we found the Indian government has roughly 5.6 million small arms; 2.6 million in the military, the others with police and paramilitaries.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Small Arms of the Indian State: Report Out

Aaron Karp and I have been working on an issue brief on Indian small arms for a while now.  The Geneva-based Small Arms Survey, which commissioned it, has finally published it and it is available here.  My thanks to Aaron for inviting me to join the project.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Seriously P.O.ed . . . Can't find my name on the Electoral Roll

Despite having my voter ID card and every other Indian national ID there is, I couldn't vote today because my name was missing from the electoral roll.  This despite the fact that I voted in the 2009 elections with the same voter ID card.  So I am forced to sit out what by all indications is the most critical election in a generation.  Nice going, ECI!

Do We Need A New COIN Approach?

As India's six-week long national elections continues, Maoists in India's hinterlands have attacked yet again.  And yet again, there are claims of incompetence in counterinsurgency (COIN) operations.  But the problems with Indian COIN goes deeper than just soldiers not following SOPs.  I wrote an essay for the Observer Research Analysis (ORF) in New Delhi on some of these issues, specifically in light of a new book on the subject by General Nanavatty, and it is pasted below:

As the Indian general election begins, there are fears that Maoist insurgents might attempt to disrupt the polls in areas where they hold sway. Their threats have already prevented political parties from campaigning in these areas. The Maoist ambush in the Sukma district of Chattisgarh last month, which killed 16 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, indicates again that Indian security forces are yet to learn how to fight this scourge effectively. Temporary setbacks are inevitable in any war, but this is not as much a temporary setback as an illustration of continuing malaise in Indian security operations. Indeed, it represents a larger failure of Indian counter-insurgency approach itself. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The implications of the Afghan elections

With the successful conclusion of the polling phase of the Afghan elections, attention now shifts to who might win and what the winner might do regarding some key policy issues. Very (very!) early trends suggest that Abdullah Abdullah is the front runner, but it will be a while before the dust settles on this one.  

My take on the implications of the Afghan elections was published in Economic Times today and is reproduced below: 

Afghan Polls Hold Hope; Real Test To Come When Taliban Step Up Their Attacks

The just-concluded Afghan elections surprised most observers. The first surprise was that it was held at all because many had a sneaking suspicion that President Hamid Karzai would find some excuse to postpone or cancel the polls to hang on to power. He has already served two terms and, under the Afghan constitution, cannot have a third term.