Perspective | Oped


A Tribune Special
Rising China, emerging India
While the future is uncertain, the world is moving towards a polycentric order, says Chandrashekhar Dasgupta
ISE of China and India (in that order) will lead to a tectonic shift in international relations. China had headstart. In contrast to India, it had already embarked upon a sweeping programme of economic reform by the end of the 1970s.


Expediting justice
Benches a better option than a separate High Court
by Srishti Yadava
T goes without saying that independent capital facilitates good governance of the state. Generally, a High Court is located in the capital of that state. The newly born states of Chhattisgarh, Uttarkhand and Jharkhand are examples.


The Sant and the accord
August 21, 2010
Mockery of justice
August 20, 2010
Pragmatism on N-Bill
August 19, 2010
MPs deserve more
August 18, 2010
On the defensive
August 17, 2010
A nation of assets, but...
August 15, 2010
Superbug scare
August 14, 2010
Leh calamity
August 13, 2010
PM’s healing initiative
August 12, 2010
Mute response
August 11, 2010

Lehna Singh: Wizard of mathematics
by Harihar Swarup
ARE are persons like Simon Lehna Singh with so many talents combined in one. One may call him a prodigy. He is a physicist, writer, journalist and TV producer. He specialises in popular writings on mathematical and scientific topics.

On Record
Need to harness hydro power: Chidambaram
by Neena Sharma
N his new role as the Principal Scientific Adviser to Government of India, nuclear scientist Dr R. Chidambaram is building bridges between scientists and common people bringing them closer to technologies expected to impact their lives.



A Tribune Special
Rising China, emerging India
While the future is uncertain, the world is moving towards a polycentric order, says Chandrashekhar Dasgupta

RISE of China and India (in that order) will lead to a tectonic shift in international relations. China had headstart. In contrast to India, it had already embarked upon a sweeping programme of economic reform by the end of the 1970s.

Under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, Beijing launched the ambitious and comprehensive Four Modernisations policy in December 1978. China had no inhibitions in seeking the advice of Goh Keng Swee, a former deputy prime minister of Singapore and one of the principal architects of its economic policies.

In India, Rajiv Gandhi made a tentative attempt to open up the economy in the mid-1980s but failed to mobilise the required political support. The reforms petered out and it was only in the early 1990s that Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao and Finance Minister Manmohan Singh successfully embarked on a step-by-step programme of systemic reforms. India decided to gradually open up its economy almost 14 long years after China.

Given this head start and Beijing’s unflinching resolve to accord overriding priority to economic growth over short-term questions of distributive justice, it is not surprising that China’s economic development has outpaced that of India. India is trailing behind China by almost a decade.

Paradoxically, partly because of this very reason, India’s growth rate may well exceed China’s in the next few years. In the earlier stages of industrialisation, developing countries are able to achieve rapid growth by technological leapfrogging; but, as they catch up with advanced countries in technology, the potential for further leapfrogging necessarily diminishes after a certain point. This is borne out by the experience of every country undergoing modernisation and China will be no exception.

Precisely because it has lagged behind till now, India will retain for a much longer period its potential for maintaining high growth rates by technological leapfrogging. According to the celebrated Goldman Sach’s BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) projection, by 2050, India will be the only major economy with a growth rate of around 5 per cent. The others will have much lower growth rates.

In addition, demographic trends are also likely to work in India’s favour. The latest Chinese study of the country’s age profile (released in July) shows that the ratio of the population of working age (those between the ages of 15 and 60) to the total population will start shrinking by 2015. In the case of India, this is expected to occur at a much later date. This trend will also help raise India’s growth rate, relative to China’s.

For these reasons, many recent projections suggest that India’s growth rate may catch up with and surpass China’s in the next decade. Of course, our per capita income will remain lower than China’s for a far longer period because of the substantial disparity in current levels. The projections concerning relative growth rates indicate only that the current economic gap between the two countries may gradually be closed over a fairly extended period.

Despite China’s spectacular growth rates in the last three decades, it still has a long way to go before it catches up with the levels of prosperity of Singapore or South Korea. India, of course, has an even longer distance to travel before it approaches these levels. However, unlike the earlier rise of the two smaller Asian countries, the rapid economic rise of China and India will lead to a tectonic shift in the global power structure because of the size of their population and, consequently, the overall size of their national economies. Because of this demographic leverage, India and China have a global footprint and degree of influence that is disproportionate to their level of development.

There are obvious similarities between India and China. Both are developing countries and, on this account, share many common interests in global economic and environmental matters. Both have achieved and sustained impressive economic growth in recent years and are, therefore, ascendant powers, playing an increasing role in world affairs.

Not surprisingly, the two countries are frequently clubbed together by political analysts. The term “Chindia” has recently come into circulation, in an overblown version of such bracketing.

In my view, “Chindia” is a fantasy. It focuses only on the similarities in the status and interests of the two countries and glosses over the differences. China’s economy is more than twice the size of India’s and its military capabilities are more impressive. It is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. China wields much greater influence in global political and economic issues. China is already a great power while India is still poised to acquire that position.

A more realistic view must recognise that China is a rising great power while India is an emerging great power. A realistic analysis of the impact of the rise of India and China on international affairs must recognise the similarities as well as the differences between the two countries.

What is likely to be the distribution of global power in, say, 2025 and how will the major powers interact with one another? The most recent assessment of the US National Intelligence Council suggests that, in 2025, the eight largest economies in the world may be the United States, China, India, Japan, Germany, the UK, France and Russia. This broadly agrees with the Goldman Sachs papers referred to earlier.

China is already poised to replace Japan as the second largest economy. The latest World Bank figures show that, in 2009, China’s GDP (at exchange rates) was $ 4.9 trillion, just a shade below Japan’s $ 5 trillion. Apart from India and Russia, the other six countries already figure in the current ranking list. The US National Intelligence Council analysis assumes that “India will probably continue to enjoy relatively rapid economic growth.”

As regards Russia, it qualifies the projection by noting that Russia could experience an actual decline if it fails to invest adequately in human capital, diversify its economy and integrate with global markets, or if oil prices remain low. The US National Intelligence Council projection seems to me to be quite credible.

Following from this projection, the Council draws the conclusion that it is a “relative certainty” that “a global multipolar system is emerging with the rise of China, India and others” and that “by 2025, the international system will be a global multipolar one with gaps in national power continuing to narrow between developed and developing countries”.

This most significant feature of the assessment of the US National Intelligence Council is in contrast with the previous projection it offered four years earlier. In December 2004, the Council’s projection for 2020 indicated continued US dominance in international affairs and emphasised that most major powers had forsaken the idea of balancing the United States.

I have two comments on the new US projection. First, it has correctly assessed the waning of US dominance. The “unipolar moment” is passing. My second comment is that the emerging international order is more accurately described as “polycentric”, rather than “multipolar.”

From an Indian perspective, what are the implications of the evolution of this polycentric global order?

In the first place, as we move towards a polycentric world, India must follow a multi-directional foreign policy, seeking to cultivate cooperative relations, to the extent possible, with all countries and, more particularly, the major powers. This will enable us to obtain maximum leverage with each of the major powers. For example, success in cultivating close bilateral ties with Washington can also raise our profile in Beijing.

Likewise, a cooperative relationship with Beijing can give us leverage in Washington. In tomorrow’s polycentric world, non-alignment will be reincarnated in the form of a multidirectional foreign policy.

While pursuing such a policy, we should pay special attention to our relations with the US. Even after 50 years, the US will still continue to be the pre-eminent power in a polycentric world. Even if China’s GDP is larger by 2050 in aggregate terms, its per capita GDP will remain far below that of the US. US leadership in science and technology will also find reflection in military affairs.

India has an advantage in building closer ties with the US. Both countries are open societies. India’s rise is already being reflected in the evolving US policy. During the Cold War years, Washington attached relatively low priority to non-aligned India.

What portents do these projections hold for India-China relations?

On the whole, we have good relations with China at present. Commercial ties have grown rapidly. This has provided a positive impetus to bilateral relations even though the degree of inter-dependence between the two economies is still quite small. China has an impressive military presence in our border areas, but its posture is not hostile and, in this sense, China does not pose a threat to India.

Looking into the future, we have to consider the possibility of a negative change in the Chinese posture. China’s posture could change suddenly in the event of a political upheaval in that country. A powerful and unpredictable China could pose a threat to its neighbours. Chinese policies might also change if there is a big change in the power equation between the two countries. This is a common feature of inter-state relations. Let us consider each of these possibilities.

Some analysts believe that China is likely to become politically unstable in the near future. The US Sinologist Gordon Chang, for example, has been predicting the “coming collapse of China” for several years. These scholars point to several negative factors such as the fact that China’s political development has lagged behind its economic growth, the discontent arising from growing income disparities and the declining prestige of the Communist party. These factors have, indeed, generated social tensions.

Nevertheless, the Chinese leadership has been successful so far in maintaining stability. It is acutely conscious of the dangers of an upheaval and it seems ready to adopt flexible and pragmatic policies to maintain political stability.

On balance, bearing in mind the track record of the Chinese leadership, I would discount predictions of chaos or collapse. It is possible that the required institutional restructuring may not proceed altogether smoothly. This could result in blips in China’s growth trajectory but a collapse or upheaval is most unlikely.

What are the chances of an adverse shift in the India-China power balance? As we noted earlier, many projections indicate that our growth rates may overtake China’s in the near future. The economic gap that now exists is likely to be closed in gradual stages. Thus, an adverse shift in the India- China power balance appears to be unlikely. On the contrary, a convergent trend, or a narrower gap, in the power potential of the two countries would be a stabilising factor in bilateral relations. Growing economic exchanges would also help consolidate bilateral ties. Thus, the overall prospects for India-China bilateral relations are quite promising, provided that neither side misunderstands the intentions or capabilities of the other.

There has been much talk recently about the so-called “Copenhagen spirit” and India-China cooperation in multilateral forums after the climate change summit last December. There is nothing new in the “Copenhagen spirit”.

Climate change is an area where the two countries have cooperated very closely ever since negotiations on the subject began in 1991. As developing countries undergoing rapid industrialisation, the two countries share common interests and these are reflected in their stand in the negotiations. For similar reasons, there are opportunities for India-China cooperation on many other global economic and environmental issues.

However, this logic does not necessarily apply to all other multilateral issues. China has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. In more recent years, it has also become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime. Unlike India, China already has a seat at the high table. In these areas, therefore, its interests often do not coincide with our interests.

For example, there is no particular reason for China to be enthusiastic about our efforts to secure a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Indian and Chinese interests may not always coincide in future when a rising India seeks inclusion in these or other exclusive policy forums. In some cases, China is not likely to extend active support to India though it may refrain from opposing our efforts in the interests of good bilateral relations. We will have to turn to other major powers to seek support or sponsorship.

How will polycentrism affect our immediate neighbourhood in Asia? The eminent American sinologist, John Garver, the author of an otherwise insightful book on India-China relations, maintains that there will be a contest between China and India for the so-called “spheres of influence” in our neighbourhood, in which China is likely to emerge as the winner. I have great respect for Garver’s writings on China, but I disagree with the “spheres of influence” forecast.

In the first place, it underestimates the role of other Asian countries. Not only Japan but also Korea, Indonesia and ASEAN (as a regional grouping) will certainly be major players in the Asian context. We will fail to understand Asian developments if we focus too narrowly on China and India. The rise of India and China is only a part of a larger historical development — the Asian Renaissance.

Moreover, Asia is not isolated from the rest of the world. Outside powers — above all, the US — will continue to play an extremely important role in Asian affairs. It would be a huge error to discount their influence. In addition to its economic influence, the US will continue to be the leading maritime power for the foreseeable future. It will be able to maintain a stronger naval presence in the Pacific and Indian Oceans than China or India, respectively.

The diffusion of power in a polycentric world will give the smaller Asian states a wider range of policy options on any specific issue, making it possible for them to avoid becoming excessively dependent on any single major power. There is no reason to expect these states to fall into anyone’s “sphere of influence”. A polycentric order will prevail in Asia, as in the world as a whole.

While the future is always shrouded in uncertainty, current trends suggest that the world is moving toward a polycentric order. By 2025, a number of major countries are likely to act as autonomous power centres. The US will continue to be the pre-eminent power, but China may begin to emerge as a rival and near-equal. The gap between the power potentials of the US and China may gradually diminish and this may also be the case in regard to the gap between China and India.

In a polycentric world, India’s traditional policy of non-alignment may take the form of a multi-directional foreign policy. Within the parameters of such a policy, priority is likely to be accorded to forging close ties with the pre-eminent power, the United States.

The writer is a former Ambassador of India to China. This article is based on the Prem Bhatia Memorial Lecture-2010 delivered by him at India International Centre, New Delhi, on August 11



Expediting justice
Benches a better option than a separate High Court
by Srishti Yadava

The Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh
The Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh

IT goes without saying that independent capital facilitates good governance of the state. Generally, a High Court is located in the capital of that state. The newly born states of Chhattisgarh, Uttarkhand and Jharkhand are examples.

Had this constitutional practice of allocating a separate capital each to Punjab and Haryana been adopted during the reorganisation of Punjab, wherein Haryana was formed under Section 3 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, the controversy over Chandigarh would not have arisen.

Ever since Chandigarh was made the common capital of Punjab and Haryana, both governments have staked claims over it. On the one hand, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has said that “a separate High Court for Haryana in Chandigarh will adversely affect Punjab’s claim on Chandigarh.”

On the other hand, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has claimed full right over Chandigarh. He said that if Punjab is ready to pull out of Chandigarh, they will have no problem in establishing their High Court at some other place in Haryana.” (The Tribune, July 3, 2010).

The Haryana government’s demand for a separate High Court is justified. Article 214 of the Constitution entitles every state to have a High Court of its own. But the demand for bifurcating the existing Punjab and Haryana High Court premises in 60:40 ratio is unconvincing.

The present High Court was established under Section 29 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966. The states of Punjab and Haryana as well as the Union Territory of Chandigarh fall under its jurisdiction. If a separate High Court for Haryana is formed, the status of Chandigarh would be jeopardised, which would not be to the liking of the residents of Chandigarh. Further, there are other constitutional deterrents which need to be taken care of before a separate High Court is carved out of the existing one.

The rationale behind a separate high Court for Haryana is based on a much-sought increase in the representation of judges from Haryana and reduction of the workload of the over-burdened judiciary. It is also aimed at expediting the dispensation of justice.

A simpler way of achieving these objectives has been provided in Section 36(2) of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, which provides for the establishment of a permanent bench or benches of the common High Court at one or more places within the jurisdiction of the High Court concerned.

If the idea behind a separate High Court is only to deliver justice effectively and speedily to the litigants, setting up of Benches is surely a better option. The establishment of Benches in Punjab and Haryana can meet the needs of litigants of both states without prejudicing the interests of litigants of Chandigarh and retention of its principal seat at Chandigarh. Importantly, the legacy of this High Court as a “worthy successor” to the Lahore High Court will not be compromised.

Having more Benches is far more advantageous than creating a separate High Court. Benches of the High Court in far off regions like Southern and Western regions of Haryana and Malwa and Majha regions of Punjab would prove beneficial to the poor litigants who now find it difficult to attend the High Court at Chandigarh because of the lack of cheap, assured and convenient mode of transport.

The Benches of High Court in those regions like Rewari in Haryana, the birth place of Sir Shadi Lal, one of the finest legal luminaries of Punjab, can save the litigants’ precious time and hard-earned money. States like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra have High Court Benches that are working effectively.

Statistics show that the Punjab and Haryana High Court has a pendency of more than two lakh cases, of which 80 per cent are more than two years old. If new Benches are set up in both Punjab and Haryana, the workload would be greatly reduced and justice could be expedited. The strength of judges would also increase as more judges would be required. The promotion of junior judges would be faster than after the creation of a separate High Court.

The members of the Bar, who have an established practice at Chandigarh, will not have to compromise by relocating themselves. The High Court Benches would help new lawyers hone their skills — this would otherwise be difficult for them while living at Chandigarh where experience and wisdom of senior lawyers often overshadow the newcomers.

The setting up of Benches would provide recourse to the problem and serve as a positive solution in all respects. Neither the Constitution nor the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, would have to be amended as the provision already exists under the Act and it just has to be implemented.

It is time the High Court saw through the game played by the politicians of Punjab and Haryana and took up the issue of litigants under its jurisdiction. It should avail itself of the provisions of the relevant Act and establish permanent Benches in Punjab and Haryana.

The writer is Advocate, Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh



Lehna Singh: Wizard of mathematics
by Harihar Swarup

Simon Lehna SinghRARE are persons like Simon Lehna Singh with so many talents combined in one. One may call him a prodigy. He is a physicist, writer, journalist and TV producer. He specialises in popular writings on mathematical and scientific topics. He has been aptly chosen for the Leelawati Award this year for his outstanding contribution to public outreach in mathematics.

The Leelawati Award is named after the 12the century mathematical treatise Leelawati — devoted to arithmetic and algebra by the mathematician Bhaskara-II, also known as Bhaskaracharya. In the book the author posed, in verse form, a series of problems in (elementary) arithmetic to one Leelawati (perhaps she was his daughter) and followed them up with hints to solutions. This work appears to have been the main sources of learning arithmetic and algebra in medieval India. The work was also translated into Persian in West Asia.

Though the Leelawati Award has been instituted as a one-time prize, the selection committee of five eminent mathematicians is trying to make it a regular feature at future International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM). The Award, carrying a citation and a cash prize of one million rupees, will be presented to Lehna Singh at the closing ceremony of the ICM on August 27 in Hyderabad.

Lehna Singh was born on January 1, 1964, to Indian parents who had immigrated to the UK in 1950 from Punjab. He grew up in Wellington, Somerset, and did his schooling there. He studied physics at the Imperial College, London, and later got his doctorate in Particle Physics working from the Cambridge University.

In 1990, he joined BBC’s Science and Features department. In 1996, he directed a BAFTA Award winning the documentary, Fermat’s Last Theorem, which, incidentally, came to be known as the world’s notorious mathematical problem.

The film was memorable for its opening shot of a middle-aged mathematician, Andrew Wiles, bursting into tears as he recalled the moment when he thought he had resolved the problem after several years of working in secret, released his proof to the world, but found that it still had a hole in it.

The documentary was also aired in the USA as part of the NOVP series. The proof, as it was re-titled, was nominated for an Emmy Award.

This notorious mathematical problem was also the subject of Lehna Singh’s first book, Fermat’s Last Theorem. This was the first book about mathematics to become a number one bestseller in the UK in 1997.

He began working on his second book, The Code Book, a history of codes and code breaking. While explaining the science of codes and describing the impact of cryptography on history, the book also contends that cryptography is more important today than ever before.

The Code Book has resulted in a return to television for him. He presented The Science of Secrecy, a five-part serial for Channel 4. The stories in the series range from the cipher that sealed the fate of Mary Queen of Scots to the coded Zimmermann Telegram that changed the course of the First World War. Other programmes discuss how two great 19th century geniuses raced to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs and how modern encryption can guarantee privacy on the Internet.

Lehna Singh’s most recent book, Big Bang, published in October 2004, tells the story of the universe. It is told in his trademark style — by following the remarkable stories of the people who put the pieces together.

In 2008, Lehna Singh was unsuccessfully sued for libel by the British Chiropractic (treatment of physical disorder by manipulation of spinal column) Association for criticising their activities in a column in The Guardian. Singh won his court appeal for the right to reply on the defence of fair comment.



On Record
Need to harness hydro power: Chidambaram
by Neena Sharma

Dr R. ChidambaramIN his new role as the Principal Scientific Adviser to Government of India, nuclear scientist Dr R. Chidambaram is building bridges between scientists and common people bringing them closer to technologies expected to impact their lives.

Working in close proximity with NGOs, several small islands of change have been created in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka where transfer of technologies from laboratory to the grassroots are all too visible.

Dr Chidambaram has now set sights on Uttarakhand and as part of a larger initiative to tap the entrepreneurial skills of over one lakh ex-servicemen. He was in Dehradun recently to oversee the activities of the Himalayan Environment Studies and Conservation Organisation (HESCO), an NGO with which he has been associated in another project of recharging of springs in the Hills. He shared his vision with The Tribune in Dehradun.


Q: As Principal Scientific Adviser, how far have you been able to sound the government on the areas that need focused attention? Is there a concerted effort to sound the government on the direction that Indian research should take?

A: Research innovation should be product and process-based. Though it may seem little ambitious, the sector is expected to boom well in advance and we will then plan accordingly for maximum gains. In the coming years, the machine and tools industry is likely to boom. A Core Advance Group for Research and Development in Electronic Hardware (CARE) has already been constituted comprising the best minds from the industry and the IITs whose task is to work out a plan to guide research and development in developing embedded systems and control systems for nuclear devices.

There should be constant interaction between the industry and the academia. We need to focus on incremental innovation where we are not always inventing the wheel but rather modifying it to suit local conditions and needs. We have managed to do it in Gandhigram, Tamil Nadu.

Q: You have been a big advocate of nuclear energy. Will we be able to achieve our growth target solely through the use of hydropower and fossil fuels?

A: As our growth rate increases to 9 per cent and above through the manufacturing sector and other industries powering our development, our power consumption is bound to go up to around 10 lakh megawatt and above by 2050. Again, if we have to sustain growth at 8 per cent, half of the requirement of energy will eventually have to be met through nuclear energy. It is the only way out.

Q: Is the row over big dams versus small dams needless? What are the options for India with large energy needs?

A: I am not against big dams because hydropower has to be harnessed and keeping in mind our ever-increasing needs, we cannot ignore it. However, whereever there is need for micro and small hydel power projects, let us give our unflinching support. Small islands powered by water mills can prove to be sustainable. Let us replicate them. They can be made commercially viable. An enterprise that could go on to power rural economies making the villagers custodians of the natural resources and at the same time reap economic benefits.

I have already visited the sites of old water mills resuscitated and revived by the Himalayan Environment Studies and Conservation Organisation (HESCO) around Dehradun. The reward for preserving the ancient mills should go directly to the villagers. We can assist them by providing the technological know-how.

Q: Our rivers are drying and dying. What should we do to protect them?

A: We must keep our rivers clean. This can only be done through personal initiatives. The Environment Ministry has constituted a core group of IITians which will come up with measures for protecting our rivers.

Basically it is our attitude that needs to change. Small bathing houses should be built near the rivers so that the worshippers can first fully cleanse themselves and then think of taking a dip in the river.



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