Vital stats of the Mumbai siege operation
On 26th November, a Wednesday night, ten terrorists, (nine killed and one taken alive), mounted a terrorist strike in Mumbai. They attacked at least ten venues (Cama Hospital, Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital, CST Train Terminus, Leopold Cafe, Girgaum Chowpatty, Metro Junction + the four buildings occupied) and later occupied four building complexes ((The Oberoi Trident Hotel; The old Taj Mahal Hotel and the new Taj;The Nariman Building), killed nearly 190 people over a space of nearly 60 hours. These terrorists came with machine guns, machine pistols, grenades, incendiary bombs, satellite phones, credit cards, Indian currency and US dollars, conflict rations of dry fruits like almonds, raisins, etc.
The assault on these terrorists, initially by local police and later by the elite NSG and MARCOS commando units spread over 60 hours, sanitized nearly a 1000 rooms, covered nearly 70 kilometres of passage ways, corridors, alcoves, enclosures, rooms and passages, in 4 building complexes, spread over nearly 1 square kilometre of dense urban population. Some 150 commandos were used – and final tally of defence personnel killed was 14 policemen and 3 commandos.
After this operation, crowds cheered and the commandos were surrounded by jubilant crowds. Indian media provided live coverage of this terrorist carnage with multiple cameras at multiple sites in a brilliant operation.
Israeli ‘experts’ were quick to condemn the Indian commando operation. Imagine the Israelis talking about collateral damage. ‘Experts’ carped about the total intelligence failure – whereas, it was clear that requisite intelligence information was drowned in the accompanying ‘noise’.
One day after the end of this operation, the Indian media and commentators are unanimous. Blame the politician.
as heaps of bodies lie in morgues in a charred or decomposed state, and loved ones huddle outside to receive them one last time, it is time to ask our politicians: Are you going to go back to playing politics with our lives? Or are you going to do something worthwhile with yours? How many deaths will it take till you know that too many people have died?
Normally incisive, MJ Akbar, falls into the trap of blaming politicians.
The most significant part of the outrage should not be obscured by the drama of events hypnotized by attack, we should not become oblivious of defence. We have been defeated by incompetent governance, both in Mumbai and Delhi … Complacence and politics gave the terrorists more protection than silence or deception could. But ineffectual leadership turning a tough nation into a soft state. We should have been world leaders in the war against terrorists, for no nation has more experience Instead we are wallowing in the complacent despair of a continual victim. Some three years ago, Dr Manmohan Singh told George Bush that there were no terrorists among Indian Muslims. Perhaps he was unaware of the 1993 Mumbai bombings. Perhaps he want ed to please two constituencies: Bush, who needed a certificate for his view that democracy was the cure for all evil; and local Muslims, who were not being given jobs but could always be offered the consolation prize of a pat on the back. Dr Singh certainly did not fool any terrorists. The Lashkar-e-Taiba might even have interpreted such self-congratulation as a challenge.
It is a test of leadership.
Can India’s political parties, tested for 60 years in the crucible of democracy, rise to this occasion and save our country? Can we set aside partisanship of our politics and forge a united front? Can the two major parties set aside differences in their visions of India and weave a common narrative of why India is a nation, united and single?
Hindustan Times joins in with its own two bits. Inderji Hazra writes, in a very superior fashion,
Frankly, the ‘lack of form’ shown by our political class isn’t a big deal for me. The pre-poll mud-slinging looks bad. But so does the shit on our roads. What makes me break into a twitch is something beyond this beggar’s opera. When pundits talk about ‘asymmetrical warfare’, they never mean lathi-wielding policemen vs AK47-armed terrorists, do they? And aren’t patrols and security checks, whether along sea fronts or at the entries of malls too much of a drag to bother about day in, day out? As for bringing about more stringent anti-terror laws — or even following standard procedures of law and order and investigations — is it worth all that effort when only two things really determine how easy or hard it will be for future terrorists to attack us?
The two things: political meddling and the law of averages.
Before coming to conclusions about this attack, let us also look at some other incidents across the world in the last few years.
On 23rd October 2002, at a theater in Moscow, the Nord-Ost incident, some 40-50 Chechnyan separatist “Special Purpose Islamic Regiment” took an estimated 850 people hostage. An estimated 300 Russians died in an attempted rescue – and 39 terrorists were killed. This entire operation took was completed after 3 days by releasing a deadly poison gas – that killed many more hostages than the terrorists.
On September 1st, 1995, again in Russia, in the Beslan school tragedy, more than 360 people were killed in the 1995 raid, purportedly led by the Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, who escaped during the botched rescue attempt by troops. Basayev’s claims of responsibility for this attack on Beslan School Number One, are disputed. Basayev used a gang which turned out to be bigger than what Russian authorities initially claimed. An investigator, Mr. Torshin disputed the claim, posted on a Chechen website, saying it “could be a hoax”. Of the 32 hostage-takers, one was captured alive, 30 died and one was blown apart. And the number of time taken to ‘resolve’ this crisis was again about 3 days.
On 5th May, 1980. the ‘famous’ SAS rescued hostages from the Iranian embassy in London. On April 30th, 1980, six Iranian Arab gunmen, opposed to Ayatollah Khomeni, took hostages, demanding release of some nearly 100 Iranian political prisoners. After 5 days of planning, some 30 ‘crack’ SAS troops overran the embassy. Of the six gunmen, five were killed and one arrested. Of the twenty two hostages, ninteen were set free, one died and two injured in the cross-fire. A film was later made on this operation.
In Peru, the siege of the Japanese embassy began on 17 December when the Marxist rebels stormed a diplomatic cocktail party, seizing more than 400 guests as hostages. The Peruvian forces, with the help of the British SAS, took two weeks to plan this assault.On April 22nd, 1997, the hostages were finally released – after some 4 months.American FBI pitched in, claiming some credit for this operation.
In India, the Akshardham Temple attack took four days to clear.
Let us get real, shall we?
The Indian Government (Central and State together) have an employee base of about 55 lakhs. The number of elected representatives total around 5,500. The Indian population totals 110 crores (1100 million). It makes no sense to make scapegoats of 5500 politicians.
Blaming politicians, who are temporary office bearers, is escapist and is a well tuned strategy by the entrenched bureaucracy which bears the full responsibility for this – the success of this operation and the lack of efforts to kill this problem at its root.
India needs to act differently. India must work on a three point agenda.
One - Close down the Peshawar arms bazaar. This small time bazaar became the sourcing centre for terrorists all over the world. Initially, stocked up with arms from the CIA funded jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan, Peshawar, has become a problem that never ends. If required, there should be a UN mandate to send in a multinational force to surround, capture and destroy this centre for arms and armaments.
Two - Withdraw all technology from Pakistan for all arms and ammunition. No RDX, no tanks, no F-16s, no APCs. Pakistan must be put on strict diet of military technology blockade by the world. No less.
Three - Secure Pakistan‘s borders with a tripartite agreement between China, India and Pakistan which will guarantee Pakistan‘s current borders. No disputes, no claims from Pakistan have any legitimacy any more. Let Pakistan take care of its current territory and people.
These three actions will rid the sub-continent of all tensions and conflicts – no less. It has to be underpinned by India and China. The West, and Pakistan will protest, but must be made to follow this prescription.
Europe’s Been Onto Something … While the US gently weeps
The EU region calling for a ‘G8 + India & China’ conference to thrash out this global monetary issue – and has been twisting the knife in the reluctant US side. The US has been dragging its feet. While the EU has been going gung-ho on this, the US has been floating many trial balloons.
Warren Buffet, Paul Volcker and Lawrence Summers have been co-opted by the President-elect of the US - Barack Obama. There has been talk of a manipulation in bullion prices - which may be required for re-anchoring currencies. Interesting deals – considered impossible till a few years, are being done in a tearing hurry.
Europe would obviously like to break the dollar hegemony – and muscle into the racket. They know the Third World-Russia-China are not prepared.
And what do Europeans want - some seats at the global regulatory table, to force US moneybags (for now) and others to seek approvals, which will come at a cost … or is it that the approvals will come at a price …
Which will solve no one’s problems … back to square one …
The US Gameplan
US analysts, led by Paul Krugman, have been calling for Barack Obama to emulate Roosevelt - who waded into WW2, with 25,000 tons of nationalized gold. If gold is nationalized, it may depress demand in the short term – giving rise to huge volatility in gold prices. But Warren Buffett has been on the silver bandwagon for a while – and that is making the gold-silver equation hazy. What if Warren Buffet becomes the new US Treasury Chief? There is the real risk of another fraud like the gold standard happening all over again.
The US has been making its moves – differently. Paul Krugman’s Nobel Prize is an indication of this. Will the US use Paul Krugman as the Keynes of the Bretton Woods. The background of Bretton Woods itself, is of course, something that the US and Europe do not want the world at large to know.
The financial stimulus plan hasn’t even a snow flakes chance in hell – as there are no targets left who can be funded. Industrial corporations are lip deep in debt. The housing sector is knackered. The tech sector has over capacity. No go, no show.
What Has Been India upto? Either … or …
India seems to completely lack direction on how to move independently in times like these. After, all why should India even look at IMF and World Bank – which are fig leaf organizations of the West, as transfer mechanisms of wealth from the Third World to the rich.
Interestingly, Manmohan Singh has done some huge work in the last 60 days – the nuclear deal with the USA and NSG, the IBSA Summit, the ASEAN free trade agreement – and now his three Asian nation visits. India’s Trade and Commerce Minister, Kamal Nath, has been talking about a multi-lateral set up. The UN was made to issue a statement on this. While the US has been resisting calls for action, busy doing post-mortem, Asia and Europe have been moving.
India is unlikely to get seriously affected by the current crisis – which is possibly creating complacency in India about what needs to be done.Or India is working on a different plan, of which we know nothing. After all, India does believe in moving steadily (even, if slowly).
Russia and China – The DragoBear Dance
The big issue is of course, China and Russia. China has 2 trillion of US dollars – and what does China do with this? This crisis seems to have made the Chinese Premier shaky. Russia has come out from a default about a decade ago – with a nearly US$400 billion reserves – flexing its muscles in Georgia and dependent on a high oil prices. What happens to Russia if a new Pacific Republic (Cuba, Haiti, West Indies, etc) were to start drilling for oil? In 5 years, the world would be awash with oil – and Russia’s mineral earnings could evaporate.
So, the world may not trust China and Russia too much. Russia and China can be the party poopers – but they cannot be the life of the party. Russia and China as significant military powers as well as a part of P5, will want their pound of flesh. They will, of course, be afraid of being left out!
Among the P5, US and EU have their own reserve currencies – leaving Russia and China out in the open. Russia and China (as full P5 powers) will want a ‘lion’s share’ of influence in any new architecture. Which any Third World grouping will not give.
The US will not have them and the EU does not want them!
Russia and China play blame-the-US game
The US has been evading transparency by not revealing M3 figures (on dubious grounds), printing money 24×7×365 and creating toxic assets. Now when the muck has hit the fan, they are acting coy. And this made the Chinese very angry.
China has alleged that the US has plundered the world – and is is now looking after its own. China alleges that the US is not bothered about the problems the US has created for other countries.
Late In the day, Mr.Hu … This is something that the world has been talking about for a long time. China has been a major supporter (and victim) of this scam – by allowing US companies unlimited access and support. Chinese citizens have been duped with low paying jobs at these enterprises.
Is China forgetting history … Mr.Hu – Today it is the US – but yesterday, it was Europe, Mr.Hu. Europe was blockaded by the US for the last 100 years – and hence, European loot is possibly forgotten in China. European loot was accompanied by a lot of bloodshed and killing also, Mr.Hu.
Has the Leopard Changed its spots Possibly, you dont know, Mr.Hu, because China has very little wildlife left. Leopards dont change their spots. Europe behaves today, because it has no options.
China is making common cause with EU over the dollar crisis. While Chinese disappointment is understandable, their actions are beyond comprehension. Just why will Europeans be bothered about Chinese welfare? Just look at their history!!
For that matter why in the world would anyone be interested in Chinese welfare – except the Chinese, of course. The Chinese Government is looking at all options – except Chinese welfare, unfortunately.
The answers A new currency floated by the five major economies who are most affected today – China, Russia, India, Brazil, South Africa. Maybe Japan will also join in. But, the answer, Mr.Hu is with these 5 – and not Europe.
OK … join the gang
Sometime back, Medvedev joined China in blaming the US. Now that the blame game is over, is it finished. Over. Satisfied with blaming the US, Mr.Medvedev.
Mr.Medvedev, now that you have blamed the US, are you better off. Apart from some (dubious) satisfaction, what else have you got.
Russia has a lot to feel bad about, I agree. US$400 billion is a lot of money – and to see it being printed out of existence, cannot be good. Sometime back China started the blame game – and now Russia has joined in. However, I am yet to see any constructive action. Especially from China and Russia.
Russia, China should join up with with Brazil, South Africa and India to present an alternative to the world community. With this grouping and backing, at least a 100 countries will sign up within 30 days.
Wakey, wakey, Mr.Medvedev. Let us get to work. Blaming the US gets us no where.
Japan + ASEAN
China-leaning Lee Kuan Yew with an Islamic Malaysia may not be very hot about ‘giving so much influence’ to a ‘new member’ like India for an ASEAN initiative. Any action which hurts the US, their largest market and patron, will be something that will make Japan and ASEAN hesitate. The very economic model of ASEAN + Japan is undervalued currency + exports to the USA. Hence, they will be wary of any initiative that affects the USA – and the West.
Status Quo …
And that is why South Africa and Brazil are essential for India. China and Russia must join in. The benefits are too obvious – and the fallout is non-existent!
The New 5 – Three Horsemen Of Apocalypse
The real action will be 5 countries – Russia and China on one hand – and India, South Africa and Brazil on the other.
The G3 (i.e. India, South Africa and Brazil) have functioning democracies, decent regulatory systems (which can be ramped up), the technology platforms, the trading systems, a vibrant entrepreneurial class – all of which is powering their economies forward. What they don’t have is P5 status – which is useful, though not essential.
This Washington meeting – Contours Of The Deal
During the con-fab, ‘committees will be set up’ which will create mechanisms for this management. The EU-USA-Asia may agree (for the time being) on a broad a global regulatory and oversight body to monitor and maintain oversight over a Dollar-Euro currency regime. Some of Asia may want to cling to this Dollar-Euro skirt.
But what the BRICS must work on is a Third reserve currency for the Third World.
The new currency may an Asian-Developing world currency. The big issue for the developing world will be obtaining assurances against predatory raids by the dollar bloc and the Euro-zone to dismantle any new system – like the alleged plot of 1997 Asian crisis.The lesser issues will also be inter-bank settlements, anchoring currencies (the role of gold or bullion).
Following is a 2ndlook at the how the Third currency option will work.
The Organization for the 3rd currency option
Q: Who will handle this currency?
A: The BRIX Reserve Organization will be a the global body which will manage the operations of the BRIX currency. This organization will have initially shareholding by the BRICS countries – equally.
Q: What will happen when new shareholders come in?
A: The promoter shareholders will (later) offer shareholding to other countries to the extent of minimum 1% of total capital and not exceeding 5%. The promoter countries will gradually reduce their shareholding proportionately and equally by inducting other shareholders or selling existing shareholding to new shareholders.
Q: What will be the capital contribution by member countries?
Member countries will contribute to capital equal to 4000 tons of gold (but not gold). Capital will be increased by addition of new members and/or existing members. In case of exchange rate fluctuations, exchange rate will be based on 90 days average. In case of any significant decline in exchange value, concerned member country to make good the shortfall in capital contribution or face shift in member status.
Q: What will be the role of gold in BRIX-BRO system?
A: All citizens of member countries will be allowed to own and trade in gold – within and outside the country during peacetime. In cases of national emergencies, countries may impose export restrictions for a limited defined period.
Governments will not be required to maintain any gold balances at all.
Q: What will be the role of BRO?
A: Firstly to provide and maintain Realtime Settlement System (RSS) – a on line, real time, trading platform – for all the national currencies of member banks and countries. Additionally, there can be ‘permitted’ currencies’ – like the Dollar and the Euro, for trading in non-member currencies.
The RSS will enable participating members will be allowed to nett off transactions.Th BRO will also approve ‘standard packages’ for over-the-counter (OTC) trading of derivative products.
Q: How will BRO make money?
A: The RSS will earn fees through transaction fees and earnings from float – which currently is used by the US and ECB. Individual countries based on trade and production patterns can expand or contract currency supply. Based on supply and demand for individual currency, the RSS will aid the price discovery and setting. National Central Banks will be able to borrow or lend BRIX through the BRO.
Q: Who will man the BRO?
A: Banking specialists will be deputed from (initially, founder) member countries in equal proportion at each level in the organization. Over a period of time, the BRO will build it own cadre of banking specialists – starting with entry level candidates.
Q: What will the currency be called?
A: Initially, the start up name of the currency unit can be BRIX.
Q: How will the BRIX currency look like?
A: The BRIX currency will only exist in bank accounts. It will not be printed, circulated physically or stored in vaults.
Q: What will happen to current US$-Euro reserves?
A: Initially all dollar reserves will be used to facilitate trade between member and non-member countries. The BRO will maintain Dollar /Euro reserves equal to 3 months requirements for member countries. Excess dollar reserves of member countries will drawn down gradually over 12-36 months based on market developments.
Q: How will monetary expansion of the BRIX be handled?
A: All monetary expansion of the BRO will happen through trade volumes and capital infusions. The BRO cannot print, monetize, expand money supply.
The Mechanics and Operations
Q: How will exchange rates be determined?
A: Demand and supply for currencies will determine exchange rates. Output of products, services, will create supply and demand for various currencies.
Q: Who will be allowed to trade on the RSS?
A: National currencies will be traded on electronic platforms with accredited traders, backed by institutional settlement system, trade guarantee – based on demand and supply for various national currencies.
Q: What changes will countries need to make?
A: Very few. All transactions must be linked to the index currency – the BRIX. No country will be required to change from their current currency system. As trades happen, a BRIX amount will be created. As the payout happens, that many BRIX will be extinguished.
Q: What reserve requirements will be imposed on member countries?
A: All countries will be required to maintain a reserve of 1 month’s BRIX usage with the BRO. This amount will earn interest rate at market determined rates.
Q: What happens when countries go through emergencies, catastrophes or calamities?
A: In case of extreme volatility in any currency due to currency /economic /natural disaster, the BRO Board of Governors may approve loans – which will be guaranteed by the donor central banks. Loans by BRO will at all times will be covered by guarantees.
The benefit of this that any country can raise loans from BRO by finding sponsors. Thus hegemony by a few powerful country will not be possible. Thus a small economy (like say) Iceland can raise a loan by finding a consortium of guarantor (say African) countries.
National central banks may guarantee ‘interest’ payments or ‘interest+principal’ amounts. In case of normal commercial loans, the principal and interest repayments can be a commercial credit decision by the BRO.
Q: How will countries maintain their foreign currency reserves?
A: Countries will need to maintain minimal BRIX reserves. BRIX will be fully convertible into other currencies. However, since all national currencies will be convertible, the need will be minimal.
Q: What will be the disclosures and information requirements?
A: BRO will collate, circulate and publish information given by all member Governments regarding M3, currency, etc.
Safety, Checks & Balances
Q: What will happen when a ‘rogue’ Government prints too much money?
A: Whenever, exchange rate volatility exceeds the prescribed bands, BRO will impose trade restrictions after due inquiry.
Q: What about predatory currency traders?
A: Since, BRIX cannot be bought except by creating business trade, there cannot be large holdings of BRIX which can be used for predatory activities. National currencies of member countries can be at risk if excessive monetization happens. But, since, trading in all currencies will happen continuously, excessive monetization will first come to light in terms of excess supply and deterioration in exchange rates.
Q: What about fake currency?
A: The BRO will have its own mint and currency printing units which will print currencies for member countries. This will ensure that mala fide, fake currency by foreign agencies, criminal elements will be eliminated. The BRO may also insist that weak economies print their currency at the BRO mint to ensure that there is transparency in money supply.
Q: What about trade in Government debt and securities?
A: All member countries will be required to intimate and route transactions of Government debt, securities through the RSS. This will ensure that there will be complete transparency in debt, M3, etc.
With a BRICS grouping behind an initiative outlined above, a 100 countries will join this system within 30 days. Japan will defect – as will some poorer European countries. OPEC countries will dither – and then join. Singapore and Malaysia may also dither for some time – but will finally join. Most of Africa, South America and Asia will sign up.
With US$6 trillion amongst the BRICS, Japan, ASEAN and Africa, the Third currency Bloc can give a huge financial stimulus to the global economy. Poorer countries can jump start industrialization – and massive orders for high tech equipment can be placed with Japan, EU and USA to jump start their economies.