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India Backs Russia’s ‘Legitimate Interests’ in Ukraine | The Diplomat

India Backs Russia’s ‘Legitimate Interests’ in Ukraine | The Diplomat.

India broke with the international community in acknowledging that Russia has legitimate interests in Ukraine.

zachary-keck_q
March 08, 2014

On Thursday a senior Indian official appeared to endorse Russia’s position in Ukraine in recent days, even as Delhi urged all parties involved to seek a peaceful resolution to the diplomatic crisis.

When asked for India’s official assessment of the events in Ukraine, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon responded:

“We hope that whatever internal issues there are within Ukraine are settled peacefully, and the broader issues of reconciling various interests involved, and there are legitimate Russian and other interests involved…. We hope those are discussed, negotiated and that there is a satisfactory resolution to them.”

The statement was made on the same day that Crimea’s parliament voted to hold a referendum for secession from Ukraine.

Local Indian media noted that Menon’s statement about Russia’s legitimate interests in Ukraine made it the first major nation to publicly lean toward Russia. As my colleague Shannon has reported throughout the week,many of China’s public statements could be interpreted as backing Russia in Ukraine, despite Beijing’s own concerns about ethnic breakaway states and its principle of non-interference.

However, at other times, including at the UN Security Council, Beijing has appeared to be subtly rebuking Moscow by suggesting that its unilateral path threatened regional and global stability. At the very least, however, Beijing has characteristically not gone as far as the U.S. and the West in publicly scolding Vladimir Putin for the military intervention in Crimea.

Ukraine certainly appeared to interpret India’s endorsement of Russia’s legitimate interests as far more hostile than Beijing’s position on Russia’s actions. According to the Telegraph India, a Ukrainian embassy spokesperson stationed in Delhi responded to Menon’s comments by saying: “We are not sure how Russia can be seen having legitimate interests in the territory of another country. In our view, and in the view of much of the international community, this is a direct act of aggression and we cannot accept any justification for it.”

The larger question, of course, is why India decided to take such a relatively pro-Russian stance on the Ukraine issue? There are a number of possibilities.

First, India and Russia have long-standing ties and Moscow is Delhi’s top arms provider. Moreover, Russia and the former Soviet Union has been nearly alone in the international community in continue to back India during crucial moments such as following its 1974 and 1998 nuclear tests.

It’s also possible that Delhi believes Russia’s intervention offers the best chance of stabilizing Ukraine. India’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday also released a statement noting that there are “more than 5,000 Indian nationals, including about 4,000 students, in different parts of Ukraine.” At the same time, India’s overall interest in Ukraine is fairly negligible—certainly less than China’s, for instance—and thus Delhi might assess that it has more to gain by publicly sticking by Moscow at a time when it desperately needs support.

India also has plenty of interests in certain regions along its peripheral, and at certain times—such as during the Sri Lanka Civil War—has intervened to protect various societal groups with strong ties to India. Unlike China, then, India may assess it has an interest in an international precedent in which major powers can intervene in countries along their borders. At the same time, such an international precedent could be used by Pakistan to justify intervening in Kashmir.

Telegraph India offers another reason. According to the report cited above, Indian officials have toldTelegraph India that, in the newspaper’s words, Delhi is “convinced that the West’s tacit support for a series of attempted coups against democratically elected governments — in Egypt, Thailand and now Ukraine — has only weakened democratic roots in these countries.”

This rationale would be consistent with India’s long-standing, deep-seated abhorrence to anything that merely resembles Western imperialism. At the same time, India has not historically made supporting democracy abroad a central tenet of its foreign policy.

India Backs Russia’s ‘Legitimate Interests’ in Ukraine | The Diplomat

India Backs Russia’s ‘Legitimate Interests’ in Ukraine | The Diplomat.

India broke with the international community in acknowledging that Russia has legitimate interests in Ukraine.

zachary-keck_q
March 08, 2014

On Thursday a senior Indian official appeared to endorse Russia’s position in Ukraine in recent days, even as Delhi urged all parties involved to seek a peaceful resolution to the diplomatic crisis.

When asked for India’s official assessment of the events in Ukraine, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon responded:

“We hope that whatever internal issues there are within Ukraine are settled peacefully, and the broader issues of reconciling various interests involved, and there are legitimate Russian and other interests involved…. We hope those are discussed, negotiated and that there is a satisfactory resolution to them.”

The statement was made on the same day that Crimea’s parliament voted to hold a referendum for secession from Ukraine.

Local Indian media noted that Menon’s statement about Russia’s legitimate interests in Ukraine made it the first major nation to publicly lean toward Russia. As my colleague Shannon has reported throughout the week,many of China’s public statements could be interpreted as backing Russia in Ukraine, despite Beijing’s own concerns about ethnic breakaway states and its principle of non-interference.

However, at other times, including at the UN Security Council, Beijing has appeared to be subtly rebuking Moscow by suggesting that its unilateral path threatened regional and global stability. At the very least, however, Beijing has characteristically not gone as far as the U.S. and the West in publicly scolding Vladimir Putin for the military intervention in Crimea.

Ukraine certainly appeared to interpret India’s endorsement of Russia’s legitimate interests as far more hostile than Beijing’s position on Russia’s actions. According to the Telegraph India, a Ukrainian embassy spokesperson stationed in Delhi responded to Menon’s comments by saying: “We are not sure how Russia can be seen having legitimate interests in the territory of another country. In our view, and in the view of much of the international community, this is a direct act of aggression and we cannot accept any justification for it.”

The larger question, of course, is why India decided to take such a relatively pro-Russian stance on the Ukraine issue? There are a number of possibilities.

First, India and Russia have long-standing ties and Moscow is Delhi’s top arms provider. Moreover, Russia and the former Soviet Union has been nearly alone in the international community in continue to back India during crucial moments such as following its 1974 and 1998 nuclear tests.

It’s also possible that Delhi believes Russia’s intervention offers the best chance of stabilizing Ukraine. India’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday also released a statement noting that there are “more than 5,000 Indian nationals, including about 4,000 students, in different parts of Ukraine.” At the same time, India’s overall interest in Ukraine is fairly negligible—certainly less than China’s, for instance—and thus Delhi might assess that it has more to gain by publicly sticking by Moscow at a time when it desperately needs support.

India also has plenty of interests in certain regions along its peripheral, and at certain times—such as during the Sri Lanka Civil War—has intervened to protect various societal groups with strong ties to India. Unlike China, then, India may assess it has an interest in an international precedent in which major powers can intervene in countries along their borders. At the same time, such an international precedent could be used by Pakistan to justify intervening in Kashmir.

Telegraph India offers another reason. According to the report cited above, Indian officials have toldTelegraph India that, in the newspaper’s words, Delhi is “convinced that the West’s tacit support for a series of attempted coups against democratically elected governments — in Egypt, Thailand and now Ukraine — has only weakened democratic roots in these countries.”

This rationale would be consistent with India’s long-standing, deep-seated abhorrence to anything that merely resembles Western imperialism. At the same time, India has not historically made supporting democracy abroad a central tenet of its foreign policy.

Delhi ministers protest against police – News – Al Jazeera English

Delhi ministers protest against police – News – Al Jazeera English.

Chief Minister Kejriwal has been conducting official work while protesting on the streets [EPA]
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who slept the night out on the streets while on an unprecedented 10-day protest against the state police, has appealed to the people to take “off from work and join him.”

He said his “unconventional politics” would usher in a new era in Indian politics.

Kejriwal together with his Aam Admi Party (AAP) ministers and followers have been on a protest since Monday, bringing chaos to areas around the Indian Parliament and key political areas of the national capital New Delhi.

He and his supporters are seeking the suspension of several polilce officers for “dereliction” of duty. Kejriwal, the newly elected chief minister of Delhi, also wants the police to report to the Delhi government, instead of the federal Home Ministry.

On Tuesday he rejected federal Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde’s suggestion to shift the venue, “Who’s Shinde to ask us to move?”

Senior police officials and the government want Kejriwal and team to shift their protest to another venue for the annual Republic Day (26 January) parade. “True republic is when people are protected and safe”, retorted Kejriwal to reporters.

Kejriwal told CNN IBN news channel, “How can the home minister sleep when the country’s women can’t? How can the home minister not be bothered about the sad state of police in the country?”

He rejected Shinde’s suggestion that an inquiry report will confirm the charge against the police officers and adequate action will be taken.

Governance critiqued

Metro stations to key government offices and zones around the protest area will be shut to halt people from joining in on Tuesday.

Kejriwal’s activism led to the cancellation of many government appointments. He was shown on TV signing official papers, trying to conduct his office on the streets.

Both Congress party and opposition leaders accused Kejriwal of “gimmickry”, “activism over governance” and disrupting life for common people through mass protests.

India struggles to handle onion crisis – Central & South Asia – Al Jazeera English

India struggles to handle onion crisis – Central & South Asia – Al Jazeera English. (source/link)

India has become so desperate for fresh stocks of the onions it uses in spicy curries that it is trying to import them from neighbours, and is even considering airlifts to ease soaring prices.

Indians go through 15m tonnes of onions a year, using them as the base for traditional dishes such as biryani and bhaji. The country is the second-largest onion grower in the world, after China, and normally exports them.

But retail prices have quadrupled in the past three months, to as high as 100 rupees ($1.62) per kliogram, making the onions an unaffordable luxury for India’s poor.

The soaring prices could become an issue in elections scheduled for next month in five states, including the capital, New Delhi.

To ease prices, the state-run farm cooperative issued a tender this week to purchase onions from abroad.

Supplies from abroad may take weeks to arrive, however; Farm Minister Sharad Pawar proposed on Wednesday importing them by air, because sea transport takes longer.

“The state-run agencies are floating import tenders, but supplies are likely to come only after 3-4 weeks,” said Changdev Holkar, a director at the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation. “And quantity would be also miniscule compared to demand.”

‘Cheating consumers’

A new crop of onions should be harvested in two or three weeks, but heavy rains are expected in the coming days in several onion-growing states, which could have a disastrous effect on the crops.

The government blames the crisis on both bad weather and speculation by middlemen. KV Thomas, the Indian food minister, accused traders on Saturday of “cheating consumers,” urging them to sell onions at “affordable rates.”

His ruling Congress party fears a backlash from its main support base. “The sky-high prices of onions have given the opposition a potent weapon to attack the government with,” commented the Hindustan Timesnewspaper recently.

Costly onions have a history of political fallout, with the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) being ousted in 1998 Delhi state polls after surging onion prices soured the voter mood.

In January 1980, the late Congress leader Indira Gandhi rode back to power on the back of rising onion prices, waving huge strings of them at campaign rallies and saying that a government has no right to govern if it cannot control onion costs.

The latest onion price rise has also come in the middle of India’s most important religious festival season, an occasion for multi-day feasts and family dinners.

 

Deadly monsoon rains sweep north India – Central & South Asia – Al Jazeera English

Deadly monsoon rains sweep north India – Central & South Asia – Al Jazeera English.

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