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India & China – The ongoing spat

October 23, 2009 Leave a comment

A war of words between the Asian heavy weights seemed to get out of proportion, with China blaring its thoughts in public domain over Arunachal, Agni, Indian High Altitude Landing Zones and now Kashmir. With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh barely days away from meeting his Chinese counterpart, the bureaucratic and diplomatic machinery is what is ensuring to downplay what both countries have been echoing as opinions and responses to one another’s comments that have been repeatedly emblazoned by the media!

Relations between both countries although not sour, have in no means been warm, something that both nations need to be cognizant of and thereupon workaround to improve the same, if they so desire that is! A war of words is certainly not a formula to extinguish problems that have had long standing contentions in between the two states, particularly when one country feels it appropriate to comment on the domestic matters of its democratic neighbour!

Progressive steps on the part of India to activate and upkeep its high altitude landing bases in regions proximate to the international border is simply a measure of drawing responsibility upon itself to ensure the security of the nation in the face of any untoward threat – much less as a mechanism of offense! History does stand testimony to the misadventures of 1962, which came shortly after India’s commitment to a renewed working relationship between the two nations. China must not view this as a threat and should rather reconcile in the thought that border security is as important an issue to address, as much as one would employ resources to tackle economic and political challenges that a nation may come to face!

That of Arunachal Pradesh is a very serious and committed demonstration by its people with regards to their allegiance, which, even as I write, has been clearly a response favourable to the Indian union. Who visits there and how, is a matter of right possessed and controlled solely by the Indian republic and by no means can be at the whims of a nation that believes it to be in possession of the said territory. Therefore, in this respect, the visit of the Dalai Lama should not be a mention, let alone an issue, to the Chinese, since it is beyond doubt, as it has been all along, that the state of Arunachal Pradesh – despite whatever it’s supposed ongoings of turbulent demographics and politics, remains a sovereign territory of the Indian union!

China’s comments, in the previous days, on Kashmir, calling India to resolve a long standing historical dispute, is uncalled for and unwarranted since it does not have any business to engage in such matters, which are clearly a problem for India considering the repeated sponsorship of cross-border terrorism and the unwillingness to come to the talking table by another nation! Historical or not, the issue of Kashmir is not one that requires interventions by any third-party, much less the Chinese! Calling this an issue left over by history, China has once again demonstrated its desire and frenzy to meddle with affairs of the Indian union, than take cognizance of issues in its domestic area – such as the ones pertaining to the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, for instance, better known to the world in the form of the despicable massacres in Urumqi, in the recent past!

Why then should Dr. Manmohan Singh’s comments, to his military commanders asking them to be wary of China, come to be viewed as bewildering, wrong or panicky? Is he not justified in anticipating and thereby wanting to neutralize a threat posed to the Indian sovereign? And more importantly, are the voices of Beijing as a result of desperation? One as a result of the fall of a Maoist government in Nepal, which China attributes to India? And also for India having kept the Tibetan political identity alive?

Fake Indian currency printed in Pakistan

August 5, 2009 6 comments

The Times of India carried a front page headline a few days ago that pointed to an ominously disturbing fact that the worth of fake currency circulating in the country is an estimated Rs.1,69,000 crore! Of this, the authorities have been able to seize a paltry Rs. 63 cores while the remaining amount still remains at large! As if that was not enough, people across the nation are at loss when they find ATMs spewing out counterfeit currency, a claim that is not very seriously taken by banking authorities, often leading to end consumer loss.

While the government, banks and people are fully aware of the problem and its massive scale, they find themselves ill-equipped to counter the problem, primarily as a result of inefficient detection mechanisms. To make their problems worse, the counterfeit currency being circulated currently is known to match up to 95% with its legitimate counterpart, making tracing and detection even more difficult.

The origins of fake Indian currency and can be majorly traced to Quetta and Chakala in Pakistan, where the ISI engages in extensive printing activities and then proliferates the product to a half dozen East Asian and Arab countries, from where it is redirected to India and neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. It is believed that the ISI, in complicity with the Pakistan government and elements of the D company, has for a very long time now engaged in the production of high-quality Indian counterfeit currency largely aimed at destabilizing the Indian economy and also using the produce to fund terrorist operations within the Indian subcontinent.

Indian counterfeit currency is printed on security paper in Pakistan or friendly nations leading to its dissemination in India via routes that are believed to be untraceable. However, Indian agencies, already aware of this arrangement have been keeping an eye on these designated routes for sometime now with a small measure of success.

The quality of such counterfeit currency is said to be so high that their tracing and detection is very difficult. Besides, fake currency is transported into India using bona fide travellers as couriers, most of whom travel for this very purpose! Hyderabad and parts of Kerala have become places that are a hot bed for arrival of fake Indian currency from Arab nations, often via labourers who, in search of a better livelihood travel to these nations and in the process end up becoming transport mediums.

Intelligence agencies in India are baffled at the numerous trafficking routes employed by couriers bringing counterfeit currency to India, and the southern part of the nation too is no exception to this malaise. In fact, the prevalence of fake currency is estimatedly higher in this region given its proximity and access to regions in the United Arab Emirates. It seems that the most popular denomination to be replicated is that of the 500 rupees, which is so done to proliferate a larger volume of currency in the system. Experts suggest that the precision involved in replicating currency is so meticulous that their detection is virtually impossible, thus making the process of tracing them extremely difficult.

With the problem growing multifold, India is expected to take up the issue with the Interpol and also ask certain European nations to keep a watch on Pakistan based imports pertaining to security paper and ink. Sleuths in the intelligence machinery are convinced that the ISI has recently asked the Pakistan government to import additional currency-standard printing paper and ink from companies located in the United Kingdom, Sweden and Switzerland to further its Indian currency printing exploits.

A highly placed official said that “after using the country’s normal requirement for printing its own currency, Pakistan diverts the rest to its ISI with the intention of destabilizing the Indian economy by pumping in as many Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICNs) as possible into India and also to fund terrorist organizations. It has been involved in printing and circulation of the fake currency notes with the help of the organized crime network of Dawood Ibrahim and others.”

Although detection is difficult, the Indian government needs to step up its vigil and seek active human intelligence on this myriad chain originating from Pakistan and systematically dismantle the operation over a period of time. Perhaps the newly created National Investigation Agency (NIA) could be entrusted to oversee this in coordination with other intelligence agencies. Assets within Pakistan, if any could be tapped to obtain detailed plans involving couriers and their routes. Monitoring of traffic from Nepal, Bangladesh, the UAE, Sri Lanka and other South East Asian nations need to be stepped up in an effort to curb this problem.

Having said that, the time and resources that need to be allocated in breaking this operation will be a huge challenge that the Indian government will face while embarking upon methods to solve this issue!