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Straight from the Specialists

China’s WMD cooperation with Pakistan looms over Xi-Modi talks

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters)

The visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to India and his meeting with Indian Prime Minister  Narendra Modi this week has elicited considerable positive interest in both countries. It has the potential to recast the uneasy Asian strategic framework, and by extension the relations of emerging global powers that are currently clouded by acrimony and mutual mistrust.

India and China are two civilizational states with a quantitative contour and complex pedigree that is both ancient and yet recent. The two Asian giants have a population in excess of one billion and unbroken histories that go back by a few thousand years. Yet their bilateral relations are of very recent origin – when they became independent nation states in the 1940s.

Opting for two very different political systems – one a diverse and federal democracy nurtured by Jawaharlal Nehru and the other a near homogeneous authoritarian communist regime consolidated by Mao Zedong – the received wisdom is that the two neighbours are both committed to ‘peaceful coexistence’ enshrined in the 1954 Panchsheel principles, whose 60th anniversary was marked in Beijing in June.

Word and deed must match in Xi Jinping’s Boao speech

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of Reuters)

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s maiden speech at the Boao forum is to be welcomed – but cautiously. The vision he has outlined of harmonious co-operation and co-existence among members of the global community has echoes of the 1954 Sino-Indian panchsheel (five principles of peaceful coexistence) agreement. History reminds us that the two Asian giants engaged in a brief border war in October 1962.

Low-key outcome as Singh meets Xi on BRICS sidelines

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The BRICS summit in Durban last week, which brought the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa together, is best recalled for the rich visual imagery that Russian President Vladimir Putin invoked. Putin suggested that the five countries were like the lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros. Notwithstanding the normative vision for the developing world that was outlined by the leaders, the subtext is a logical extension of this animal metaphor.

Xi Jinping at the helm in Beijing, responsibility looms large

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The carefully orchestrated and much awaited leadership transition in Beijing was formally concluded on Thursday with the elevation of Xi Jinping as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China.

Fukushima disaster report: relevance of cultural traits

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The first report of the three major investigations commissioned by the Japanese government into the Fukushima nuclear disaster of March 2011 was released in Tokyo on Thursday. The findings of the investigation, chaired by Dr. Kiyoshi Kurokawa challenged the dominant assumption that this tragedy unfolded due to a confluence of natural calamities of tectonic proportion — namely a tsunami and an earthquake — and concluded that Fukushima was alas, ‘man-made’ and occurred due to “a multitude of errors and wilful negligence” that implicated the government, safety regulators and the operator of the nuclear plant.

Dark clouds hover as Indian parliament turns 60

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Despite the mounting criticism and steady loss of faith in democratic institutions and the many questions being raised by Indians about the personal integrity of those in public life, it was a proud moment for India when its parliament convened a special session on Sunday to mark the 60th anniversary of the first sitting of the Indian parliament on May 13, 1952. The luminaries at the time included Rajendra Prasad, S. Radhakrishnan, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel and B.R. Ambedkar amongst others.

How stable is South Asia 14 years after Pokhran II?

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

On May 11, 1998, India carried out a nuclear test and became a de facto nuclear weapon power. A few weeks later, Pakistan followed suit and demonstrated its own nuclear weapon capability. The covert nuclear weapon status of the South Asian region had become unambiguous. India had crossed the nuclear Rubicon after it had first signalled its technological ability to do so in May 1974 — with what was described as a Peaceful Nuclear Explosion (PNE).

Hillary Clinton’s farewell visit to Delhi: from prickly estrangement to empathetic divergence

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will rank as the most accomplished, poised and successful woman politician in American history. She has pierced many glass ceilings with tenacity and grace. She almost made it to the White House and future sociologists and historians will be able to more objectively assess the misogyny index that still lurks deep within American society and its relevance in the Obama-Clinton Democratic party tussle. The U.S. demonstrated in late 2008 that it had evolved to a point where it could accept a coloured President but not a woman.

Osama bin Laden’s ideology thriving a year after his death

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

One year after the elimination of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden by U.S. special forces in the daring Abbottabad operation of May 2, 2011, it is evident that while the terror group has been considerably weakened, it has been consolidating over the last few months and the ideology that bin Laden espoused is thriving in the Af-Pak region.

India hiding from its own ‘crap’

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By C. Uday Bhaskar

(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

India, to put it euphemistically, is awash in its own ‘crap’ — a word derived from old Dutch to mean excrement. While accurate to an alarming degree, coming soon after the euphoria over the Agni missile tests, the discomfiture is evident.

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