Monday, November 05, 2012

To curb illegal mining, the government needs to centralise mining hubs

IIPM Review MBA 2012

Illegal Mining
Illegal Mining
With the government pitching hard for sustainable growth on the back of industrialisation, it is apparently giving a hideout to the bunch of natural resources which the country is ignoring for the last couple of decades. Dictating the country's economy, these resources can either be a bane or a boon for the nation.

On one extreme, the same resources have proved to be a curse for many African territories. However, on the other hand, they have uplifted the economies of many Latin American countries. Unfortunately, the Indian resource-rich states are still plagued with utter poverty and are categorised as BIMARU states. Almost all resource-rich states from Bihar to Rajasthan are mired in illegal mining and resource smuggling. The entire episode of illegal mining re-surfaced recently with the arrest of mining baron Gali Janardhan Reddy (in Bellary in Karnataka). And with this, a series of such illegal operations grabbed headlines. The last few years have registered as many as 82,330 cases of illegal mining, with Maharashtra topping the list with 34,384 cases. Karnataka also witnessed a rise in such cases by 2.39 times with 4,949 cases reported in 2010. Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh also saw an increase in illegal mining by 2.72 times and 1.54 times higher than the 2009 figures respectively. Nearly, 60 per cent of the total iron ore mines in Goa are operating without essential clearances.

In the present circumstances, it seems that the efforts are below par. The country is yet to implement Mines and Minerals Development Bill, 2011. The recent ban on export of minerals by the government would only prove counterproductive. The central government has virtually no say in the entire issue as the ownership of mines still lies with state governments. In a few instances, state governments have been manipulating norms only to ease these corrupt practices. The figures reveal that nearly 40,000 cases pertaining to illegal mining and involving some top politicians are pending at various levels. The officials have been found sanctioning protected zones for mining and also issuing official written permission in order to make the illegal trade smoother and faster.

Taking stringent measures in this regard, the Union government should centralise all mineral hubs and mining zones and should bring them under e-governance. Manual documentation needs to be eliminated which would eventually reduce forgery and would make the entire process more transparent. It will mitigate state intervention and eventually reduce state-level corrupt practices. Although the states should be provided with annual royalties depending on the revenue mining zones create. This will be an incentive for the states and would encourage them to create sufficient infrastructure for attracting investment and trade. Above all, the entire system should be audited by an independent body to plug-in any loopholes that the system accidentally leaves unaddressed. Beside all these policy measures, the government and all the stakeholders need to realise a sense of strong leadership especially in resource-rich states. After all, it is leadership that differentiates Africa from Latin America.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

A vivid portrait of terror

IIPM Review MBA 2012

The caliphates’s soldiers

The caliphates’s soldiers
The caliphates’s soldiers
By Wilson John
Edition: Clothbound
Pages: 324
Price: Rs 595
isbn: 9789381506011

Terrorism in India has in part sprung, among other things, out of a strategy to pressurise New Delhi to cede control of all Kashmir. It is of a piece with the often touted proclamations of terrorist elements regarding the establishment of a worldwide ‘caliphate’ founded on Shari’a law. In pursuit of this long-term plan, anti-India terror outfits have now present, both actively and through sleeper cells, in different parts of the world. Peace, as various scholars of Islamic studies stress, has been the bedrock of Islam everywhere. Which God would like to see His own creation being killed just because a few others have taken it to be their right to coerce the world to follow their beliefs? But utterances like ‘due to the blessings of jihad’ and ‘it is the blood of martyrs which will spread light in every dark corner of this earth’ have often been aired after an explosion or killing. Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, or LeT, is found to be an incessant force behind many of the recent gory terrorist strikes in India and elsewhere.

Every now and then, we count the dead. Intelligence agencies release sketches of the perpetrators and shadowy websites make unauthenticated claims.

There is no international meeting and bilateral and multilateral declaration which does not include terrorism in its script. This book lucidly and in a clear and logical way unravels every strand of not just a grand plan of establishing a global ‘Caliphate’ but also traces the very path of the proclaimed war against the kaffir.

The book brings out the clear dominance of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, LeT amir (chief). LeT’s policy-making body consists of amir, naib amir (deputy chief), finance chief and others. It has a very well laid out command structure at the field level, where it has a Chief Commander, Divisional Commander, District Commander, Battalion Commander and lower functionaries on an army pattern. The strict indoctrination as brought out in the book has made the command and control very smooth. The book enunciates how LeT has been able to network with several extremist organisations.

Another important aspect is the use of catchy and rousing one-liners like “this Jihad has been commanded by Allah, no one can stop it”. If one mixes it with high quality oration, it is not difficult to arouse the impressionable to follow ill-directed orders. This allows Hafiz Saeed to run his fiefdom.

The book makes one wonder whether to call LeT an independent organisation or to see it as part of Pakistan’s plan to hamper India’s development by spreading mayhem. The myth of LeT being an independent terror outfit busy planning and executing activities on its own is dispelled on bringing together the analysis of various experts on the involvement of senior officials of the Pakistan government in abetting the subversive activities. One such conspicuous link is exposed in facilitation which came from the level of a Pakistan Army Officer who later went on to become Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka.

One chapter, ‘A Long War Against India’, traces the genesis of what is termed as the reformist Islamic movements in India around the 17th century. It brings out an important aspect of the kind of anarchy that has been spread around the globe. The author writes: “In the late 1980s when the Pakistan Army-ISI was toasting the success of their jihad (with the CIA) in Afghanistan, Kashmir was witnessing considerable political upheaval. A fratricidal combat where people were being isolated and divided on communal lines was on. Here was an opportune moment for Pakistan’s anti-India planners who diverted the Mujahids of Afghanistan to Kashmir as it coincided well with the withdrawal of the erstwhile Soviet forces.”

The shaping of the mind is being done in a planned and subtle manner so that the effects linger. The whole set-up has a madrasa (seminary), hospitals, a market, a large residential area for ‘scholars’ and faculty members, and agricultural tracts. It is said to own a large number of Islamic institutions, secondary schools, ambulance services, mobile clinics, blood banks and seminaries across Pakistan. All this information has been collected and packed into the book. To read the mind of Hafiz Saeed and understand his deep hatred for India, the book spells out his background and the way in which his ancestors took refuge in Pakistan.

This book delves deep into the carefully nuanced strategy of indoctrination and training of young recruits for jihad in a way that will help every analyst and student of the history of terrorism. What the book establishes in the ultimate analysis is that LeT stands apart: its activities are clearly distinguishable from those that are promoted by other terrorist groups.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sherlock Holmes: The game just got hotter...

Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes
Every Sherlock film is invariably weighed in the same nostalgic spirit of Victorian England of old. But Guy Ritchie had changed all that with his first installment of the master detective's bravados, at least on screen, by taking the lock, stock and barrel of Sherlock Holmes through nifty FX and stylised sequences of neo-baritsu.

In this second installment, The Game of Shadows, the formula which proved so successful earlier is strictly followed. Robert Downey Jr. in a long line of outstanding artists who played Holmes, and his interpretation of the character, is undoubtedly one of the best and he proves it once again with his charming, quirky mannerisms and a very proper British accent. Jude Law too proved to be a worthy sidekick of the sleuth and his gentlemanly fists showed to be no less formidable than the cannon he uses to blow down an entire stone tower.

The two most interesting characters were of course Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's elder brother and Prof. Moriarty, Holmes greatest nemesis and his equal perhaps in everything apart from the chess board. Played by Stephen Fry and Jared Harris respectively, they were a treat to watch. The interactions between Holmes and Moriarty have been brilliantly scripted. The film gave us glimpses of the Sherlock in Conan Doyle's works, who did most of his work in the mind. Not that he isn't as smart in the film, but only if the plot wasn't so grand. James Bond could have also had a go here, saving the entire world from a war of gigantic proportions, unlike the smaller issues which, in the novels, the clients would invariably bring to 221B Baker Street.

The film is not a faithful interpretation of the canon. Neither is it a faithful interpretation of 1900s England. What it is, is a great new avatar of our beloved Holmes who has gone through so much for so many years; surely he can shrug a few special effects off now.