The Indian EXPRESS

HE federalism question has loomed large in recent months, sometimes as a matter of principle, and sometimes as a struggle for advantage. It is obvious that old style command-andcontrol by the Centre is no longer possible, and yet, it is also clear that state governments often invoke federalism as a cover for narrower interests. However, on many unresolved fronts, from the NCTC to the GST, there is no way forward that does not involve accommodation from both sides. The Union government has now significantly modified its plans for the National Counter-Terrorism Centre, after as many as 15 chief ministers, including the Congress’s own, protested its wide ambit. It will no longer be placed under the Intelligence Bureau — a body that is exempt from parliamentary oversight. While acknowledging the need for a unified anti-terror apparatus, several states had expressed their discomfort with the proposed NCTC’s powers to search, seize and arrest, which threatened to cut into their policing responsibilities. The Centre has assured them that these powers will be used only in the rarest circumstances, and will involve the state DGPs as fully as possible. It remains to be seen whether these amendments will pacify the states. It does signal the Centre’s realisation that it cannot


Centre bends on NCTC, asserts itself on water — true federalism is based on willingness to negotiate
move forward without their support. However, in some cases, solutions aren’t purely localised. There has been much talk of moving water out of the State List, into the Concurrent or Union List. MPs across the political spectrum have asked for a constitutional amendment — and the idea has been discussed by the Planning Commission and long been advocated by the water resources ministry. Section 17 of the State List gives them control over “water supplies, irrigation and canals, drainage and embankments, water storage and water power”, though the Centre has the right to decide inter-state water-sharing disputes, in the larger interest. The problem is not of irrigation or power alone. The depleting water table, regional scarcities and climate change-related stresses mean that we need a comprehensive view of water, and allow for long-term planning. Allowing the Centre a decisive say in water governance seems vital — though it is far from certain that states will cede that right. Politics in India has moved to a more participatory model, an umbrella of diverse interests. At the same time, governance must acquire a new agility. That calls for an intelligent coordination between state and Centre, a willingness to negotiate, and the realisation that it is not a zero-sum game.

Give and get


But to make the best of it, Indian business needs a more purposeful policy from UPA
bias has been towards the West and Japan and Singapore in the East. But as an increasingly global company, it was inevitable that they would turn to the world’s second largest economy and exploit the many synergies awaiting there. The new logic of India-China cooperation is not a one-way street. With the West — the principal destination for its exports — caught in a prolonged recession, China’s economy is slowing down. To sustain reasonable growth rates, so necessary for its internal political stability, China needs to develop alternative export markets. Investing in India’s massive infrastructural needs should now be very attractive for Chinese companies. To make the best of the emerging complementarities, Indian business needs a more purposeful China policy from the UPA government. Having reordered India’s relations with the United States in the first term, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has time yet to leverage the China opportunity to renew India’s economic prospects.

The China opportunity

NDUSTRIALIST Ratan Tata’s hope, expressed in a television interview last week, for a stronger partnership between India and China, may yet be dismissed as naive by Delhi’s strategic community. But Tata’s stated determination to rapidly grow his group’s engagement with China could mark an important inflexion point in economic relations between the two countries. Once mortified by the fear of cheap imports, many Indian big businesses now see China as a valuable partner. To be sure, there are sections of Indian industry that continue to demand protection against Chinese goods. But major Indian companies involved in such sectors as power production and telecommunications have insisted that partnering with China is critical for the rapid expansion of India’s infrastructure. For Indian companies with a global footprint, business with China is more than an opportunity; it is a vital necessity. For instance, over the last two decades, the Tatas’ traditional international

AST week’s emergency landing of an Air India jetliner in Pakistan was in sharp contrast to the last time it happened — the hijacked IC-814 had landed in Lahore in December 1999, en route to Kandahar. The lucky passengers last week enjoyed the famed Pakistani hospitality, including biryani, and the brushing aside of all red tape. In 1999, just months after Kargil, and with Pakistanbased Harkat-ul-Mujahideen suspected of orchestrating the hijacking, the lack of official cooperation turned a bad situation into something far worse. Much has happened in the intervening years; not just 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 26/11, but also a substantial change in the global economic order. The world is now a very different kind of place. And yet, as French journalist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr said in the 19th century: the more things change, the more they stay the same. Today, Pakistan and India are in yet another period of detente, with some developments worth cheering, but without clarity on how to achieve an entente that would free both countries from the shackles of their grim mutual history. Recent months have seen some progress in improving relations, most notably on the trade front. But even that has been halting at best, bedevilled by Pakistani worries, some valid and others less so. Pakistan’s fear of being swamped by Indian goods is neither the biggest nor most logical concern, since in any case plenty of Indian goods already get in, either through third countries like the UAE or straightforward smuggling across the border. The Pakistani concern that has more validity is that Indian nontariff barriers would deny their exporters the benefits of integration with the largest regional economy. That restrictive Indian regulations complicate imports from everywhere, and are op-


Being neighbourly
Pakistan’s civil society is eagerly working to normalise ties. India must reciprocate
posed just as strongly by Indian companies, can hardly be any solace to Pakistan, which has long been lectured on the need to reciprocate the most-favoured nation status that India has granted it since 1995. It is in India’s interest to be proactive in making this a win-win for both sides. At the same time, the issue of cross-border terrorism keeps popping up in ways that disrupt rapprochement. There seems to be a basic disconnect on this, and not just with the Pakistani military — which would be understandable, if not agreeable. After all, the military has been just as obdurate about not winding down its deed in most other nations. The fact is that there is a fundamental qualitative difference in the terrorism suffered by India — the vast majority of such terrorism has some sort of a Pakistan link, usually to non-state agencies either patronised or tolerated by official ones — and the homegrown kind suffered by Pakistan. Until Pakistani civil society accepts that essential difference as valid, there will not be adequate pressure on their military to actually do something about it, such as cracking down on safe havens operating on their soil. If that proves too politically difficult at this stage of the detente, even symbolic gestures such

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The issue of cross-border terrorism keeps popping up in ways that disrupt rapprochement. Even among well-intentioned civilian stakeholders in Pakistan, sympathy for wounds inflicted on us by terrorists is tempered by some version of ‘enough already about 26/11, we suffer even more from terrorism, let’s just move on’.
“strategic assets” in Afghanistan, leading to a severe fraying of Pakistan’s relationship with the United States. What is less understandable from India’s viewpoint is that even among well-intentioned civilian stakeholders in Pakistan, sympathy for wounds inflicted on us by terrorists is tempered by some version of “enough already about 26/11, we suffer even more from terrorism, let’s just move on”. Many Indians find that sentiment insensitive. The Pakistani mantra of recent years, that it deserves more consideration as terrorism’s biggest victim, has not found many takers in India, nor inas extraditing Indian-origin terrorists like Abu Jundal would begin to address the trust deficit. It would be just as illogical for India to hold its relationship with Pakistan to ransom on account of domestic Maoist terrorism, rather than introspect on it and debate it as an internal problem — which is what we are doing. Unfortunately, India has occasionally compromised its position by blaming Pakistan for incidents that have domestic roots, such as the Samjhauta Express attack. Equally unfortunate is the tendency of many in Pakistan to treat this as typical, rather than the ex-

ception that proves the rule, and, sadly, as justification that India overstates its case against cross border terrorism. Some in Pakistan also equate India’s cross-border terrorism problem with what they allege, without substantiation, to be an Indian helping hand to some militants in Pakistan. The reality, as best as anyone has been able to verify, is that this has not been the case since at least the mid-1990s, after India’s unilateral winding down of intelligence assets across the border (the so-called Gujral Doctrine). Since then, the predominant Indian sentiment that a stable, prosperous Pakistan is overwhelmingly in India’s interest, also dictates otherwise. The eagerness with which Pakistan’s civil society has been working towards normalisation of ties with India is genuine, and needs reciprocation at this crucial juncture. The concern among India’s policymakers, however, is whether Pakistan’s military is equally genuine about it. Certainly, the recent progress could not have happened without some kind of a nod from their army GHQ. But as long as there are safe havens in Pakistan for cross-border terrorists, questions will persist whether such nods from the GHQ are just tactical moves to tide over their present difficulties, with no strategic commitment to a lasting detente or better. That is why defence-related breakthroughs like a Siachen settlement are stuck, and why progress will continue only at a snail’s pace until it either reaches a positive tipping point or falls hostage to another 26/11. Of course, there are steps Pakistan could take that would be in its best interest, while also sending a hugely positive signal to India. My favourite in that category: bringing the ISI under full civilian control. The writer is a BJD MP in the Lok Sabha

■ DARA SINGH was not just another wrestler with rippling muscles. He was kind and humble: he helped the needy, but shied away from publicity. Though he became famous for playing the part of Hanuman in Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan, he will also be remembered for the fine roles he essayed in films like Hercules, Thief of Baghdad, Lootera, Awara Abdulla, Rustom-eHind and Daku Mangal Singh. He did more than a dozen films with Mumtaz as the leading lady — and these were commercially successful as well. He made good money and was always ready to provide moral and financial support to upcoming wrestlers. — Yash P. Verma Pune

Letters to the

Good old Dara

HE report of Japan’s parliamentary commission on Fukushima was breathtaking in its candour in apportioning responsibility for the nuclear catastrophe. This is the first time a parliamentary panel has been so outspoken about the flawed safety and emergency preparedness practices of the utility, the government and the regulatory authority. The commission asserts that the disaster was preventable and should have been foreseen even though an unprecedented natural calamity caused it. International experts had already begun to point fingers at the serious gaps in the Daiichi reactors’ record of safety and emergency preparedness. But it is a different thing for Japan’s own parliamentary panel to pronounce on the “multitude of errors and wilful negligence”. The Chernobyl accident never led to any such findings, even years later. Closer home, high-level probes on disasters are seldom made public. The parliamentary commission report is severe about the woeful manner in which authorities and the operator responded to the catastrophe that unfolded after March 11, 2011, when the tsunami hit Japan. A flawed plan for the evacuation of almost 150,000 people exposed them to radiation. A resident of Okuma is quoted in an appendix of the report: “If there was even a word about a nuclear power plant accident when evacuation was ordered... we could have taken our valuables


Challenge for nuclear project remains: to raise awareness, ensure transparency
with us or locked the house up... We had to run with nothing but the clothes we had on.” Post Fukushima, a number of steps were taken in Japan, such as a complete reform of the regulatory body and the oversight mechanism. To this, the report only says that merely “replacing people or changing the names of institutions” will not do. The report says that regulators did not monitor the nuclear plants, and shirked responsibility by letting the operators observe regulations voluntarily. The regulators were not independent from the operators or political authority. Required expertise was also missing on the part of the regulators, as was the commitment to existing regulations, which promoted nuclear power over public safety and health. In fact, the report echoes conclusions voiced by international experts. For instance, the analysis last March by experts from the Carnegie Endowment, James Action and Mark Hibbs, concluded that “had Tepco and the nuclear safety agency followed international standards and best practice, the Fukushima accident would have been prevented”. These experts claimed that Tepco knew about tsunami risks, had even done computer simulations, but still failed to act. This was in contrast with experiences in other countries, such as France — in December 1999 the Blayais nupeople in government, regulatory authorities and industry for vested interest. The “regulatory capture” theme figures prominently in the Japanese report as well. Japan has done immense service to international community by admitting to its deficiencies. There is also a cultural confession in the report — reflexive obedience, unwillingness to question authority and insularity are held responsible for what it calls a man-made disaster. But since these traits are scarcely unique to any particular nationality, such Japanese politesse cannot disguise the more direct conclusion of the report — concrete action, which could and should have been taken to prevent the disaster, was missing. This verdict, that the disaster was preventable, could help temper the adverse impact Fukushima has had on nuclear power prospects worldwide. The observation on regulators lacking expertise and thus compromising independence from operators poses a challenge to many countries, particularly where governments run nuclear enterprise and the private sector or academia is still not up to it. While insularity is counter-productive, taking in outsiders on a regulatory body may not bridge the credibility gap. The question of how to raise awareness and transparency in a constructive manner is likely to dog nuclear debate. The writer is former ambassador to Austria and governor on the IAEA board

Fukushima files

■ APROPOS ‘Costs of waiting’ (IE, July 11), the Congress, which is in denial mode when it comes to the problems besetting it, may not understand the import of Salman Khurshid’s statement on the drift in the party. The Congress’s inability to reorient itself ideologically will prove costly. It is only obsessed with hero-worshipping the Gandhis. Meanwhile, there seems to be no consensus between the party and the government on crucial issues. Coalition mismanagement, inflation and the weakening of the rupee have worsened the situation. Thanks to policy paralysis at the Centre and the economic slide, India is no longer the second engine of growth in Asia. This dangerous situation does not allow the party or the nation the luxury of waiting. — Ved Guliani Hisar

Wait and watch

Questions for Saudi
Saudis deported Abu Jundal’ (IE, July 13). The article analyses well the difference between the Salafists and their radical counterparts as well as Saudi Arabia’s attitude towards granting asylum to foreign terror suspects and its enmity with Iran. The article also informs that the Saudis, who have helped spread the Salafi thought and movement across the world, advised Kashmiri Salafists to promote only knowledge. Thankfully for the Saudi royalty, its two sworn enemies, Osama bin Laden and Muammar Gaddafi, have both been eliminated in the recent past. — S.C. Panda Bhubaneswar
■ THIS refers to ‘Why the


Leak of Yahoo email passwords reinforces the need for companies to get serious about user data security
leaked information in unencrypted, plain text form, making it easy for the hackers, who even posted a message alongside their disclosure calling attention to Yahoo’s less-than-thorough approach to data security. Encrypting passwords is the bare minimum in web security, and Yahoo’s failure to do even that suggests that they may be cutting corners elsewhere too. But the breach of better-secured account information, such as LinkedIn’s — which “hashed” user data but didn’t “salt” it, both standard cryptographic practices — and Formspring’s, which did both, indicates that companies have to be proactive about protecting user information, especially given the increasing popularity of cloud-based productivity tools. The frequency of such hacks also highlights that there are no minimum security standards that most websites are required to follow, like there are for banks and other financial sites that handle cardholder information.

Insecure web

The verdict that the disaster was preventable could help temper the adverse impact Fukushima has had on nuclear power prospects worldwide.
enforce nuclear safety. A damning indictment is reserved for the operator, Tepco, which is said to have manipulated a cosy relationship with the regulators and made them toothless while bureaucracy at the powerful ministry of economy, trade and industry drove nuclear policy. Laws and regulations on nuclear power were never reviewed comprehensively to conform to international standards. Neither did they take lessons from previous accidents. Predictable risks were not factored in as a result of such practices. The report underlines the lack of clear guidelines on the emergency response of concerned parties. It also pointed to a bias in clear power plant was flooded. European countries drew the right lessons from the French experience and equipped their plants with adequate emergency electricity supply to eliminate coolant failure and a consequent meltdown. Some of the most established names in the nuclear field — Sidney Drell, George P. Shultz and Steven Andreasen wrote in the journal Science that “Fukushima demonstrates the fragility of the civil nuclear enterprise”. They regretted that “strong, independent regulatory agencies are not the norm in many countries” and stressed the need to protest against “regulatory capture” by

ASY as you please, a hacker collective was able to use a common attack, known as SQL injection, to liberate over 4 lakh passwords from a Yahoo database last week. This latest attack comes only a few days after Formspring, a service that lets users create forms and send them to friends for answers, had a security breach that compromised some user accounts, and a month after millions of passwords from social network LinkedIn and online music site Last.fm were leaked. To make matters worse, the Yahoo service attacked appears to be Yahoo Voices, which means that the email addresses and passwords revealed are not limited to Yahoo Mail, but also include Gmail and MSN accounts (since any email account can be used to sign up for Voices). Such breaches are evidence that Internet companies handling sensitive user information must do more to protect that data. Yahoo, for instance, stored the

Turning a blind eye


Shell could create serious environmental hazards when drilling for oil in the Arctic

Troubled waters


Your own safety is at stake when your neighbour’s house is in flames.

HE proposal by Shell Alaska to drill for oil in the Beaufort and that the US Interior Department wrongly accepted a key assertion by Chukchi seas of the Arctic sounded from the start like a dangerous Shell: that the company would recapture 90 per cent of the oil released by environmental prospect... The Obama administration any spill. That’s a wildly optimistic number, never achieved in a nevertheless approved the proposal after Shell developed an major oil spill, even in much calmer waters than the Arctic’s... It’s elaborate set of safeguards, including stronger well-drilling stanunclear whether drilling for oil in pristine Arctic seas will ever be dards and the addition of a second rig nearby that could drill a rean environmentally safe option; what does seem clear is that neilief well if there were a blowout. Shell also outfitted a barge with PRINTLINE ther Shell nor the government has taken the necessary steps to asequipment designed to cap a spill at the bottom of the sea. Yet a sure the public that a catastrophe can be avoided. lawsuit filed Tuesday by a coalition of environmental groups correctly claims that the spill response plan is inadequate. The biggest problem is From a leader in the ‘Los Angeles Times’

news report ‘Molestation aired on TV, Gogoi sets up task force’ (IE, July 13). It is shameful that two television channels in Guwahati recorded and aired the incident of a few men assaulting a woman in public. By telecasting the scene, the violence inflicted on the woman was turned into an even bigger public spectacle. I also wonder about the apathy of the people who passively watched what was happening, without coming to the rescue of the woman being sexually assaulted. This has happened many times before. Had those who looked on showed some courage, the men could have been caught and handed over to the police. — R.K. Kapoor Faridabad

■ THIS refers to the disturbing