The single biggest stakeholder in the outcome of the China-United States weekend summit in California was not Japan, but North Korea. It is more than a coincidence that Pyongyang agreed to hold a meeting with Seoul the day after presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping wrapped up their talks.
The North Koreans saw the writing on the wall when an exuberant Obama described his talks as «terrific» and Xi’s foreign policy advisor Yang Jiechi summed up that the two presidents «blazed a new trail» in the California desert that could be called «strategic, constructive and historic».
Yang’s comments are important because he is not a professional politician and is trained to measure words by coffee spoons. Even Yang got carried away momentarily. He said, «The two presidents agreed to build a new model of major country relationship between China and the United States based on mutual respect and win-win cooperation. We have to stay each other’s partners, not rivals».
The summit was rich in symbolism, as an American and Chinese leader never before got together in an informal setting and clocked eight hours of talks, had a private dinner cooked by a celebrity chef, and took a 50-minute walk with only their translators. That the summit took place at Obama’s instance hardly three months into Xi’s presidency is extraordinary.
But having said that, amidst the outpouring of polite phrases, it is difficult to quantify what has been accomplished at the summit. The US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said the talks were «positive and constructive, wide-ranging and quite successful in achieving the goals that we set forth for this meeting». As Yang put it, the discussions were «unprecedented in length, breadth and depth» and have resulted in «charting a blueprint for the future growth of US-China relations. They [Xi and Obama] talked about cooperation and did not shy away from differences. They pursued an in depth and candid dialogue, though not necessarily an all-encompassing one».
One tangible outcome could be on North Korea. Washington and Beijing sense they could be on the same page on how to contain a nuclear North Korea. Both leaders «agreed that North Korea has to denuclearize, that neither country will accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state and that we would work together to deepen cooperation and dialogue to achieve denuclearization,» Donilon told reporters.
And Yang concurred – «The Chinese side is ready to continue to make an unremitting effort toward those goals [denuclearization of North Korea]. The pressing need now is to resume the talks as soon as possible».
Over the weekend, the North Korean and South Korean officials held their first government-level talks in many years. Obama can look back with certain sense of accomplishment in persuading Beijing to apply the sort of pressure on Pyongyang that might be proving effective in compelling the latter to give up vacuous rhetoric, see the light of reason and broach with the South Koreans the subject of reopening the economic zone at Kaesong.
The understanding that Obama may have forged with Xi on North Korea comes after six decades since the Korean War ended. Donilon said, «I think the bottom line is I think we have quite a bit of alignment on the Korean issue».
But, on the other hand, Donilon unilaterally set a benchmark, whereas all that Yang said was that «China and the U.S. have the same goal in terms of their principal and overall objectives on the Korean peninsula. The pressing need right now is to resume dialogue as soon as possible. China is ready to maintain close dialogue and cooperation with the U.S. in this respect».
China’s stance fundamentally continues to be the same, namely, that the nuclear issue should be resolved through the six-party talks and this requires more all-round engagement and interactions with North Korea.
Again, on the issue of cyber security, Donilon insisted that progress has been made. As he put it, Obama «asked that the Chinese government engage on this issue and understand that if it’s not addressed, if it continues to be this direct theft of United States property, that this was going to be a very difficult problem in the economic relationship and was going to be an inhibitor to the relationship really reaching its full potential». Donilon claimed that Xi acknowledged the US concerns and agreed to look into the specific cases Obama cited.
But Yang had an altogether different take: «On cyber security both [countries] have similar challenges. It should not become [the] root cause of mutual suspicion between our two countries, rather it should be a bright spot in our cooperation». Simply put, Yang is only going so far as to admit there is a mutual problem that both sides face and China would be willing to sit down, discuss and figure out what is essentially unchartered waters.
To be sure, the US’s allies in the Asia-Pacific region will wonder whether Obama took up the issue of China’s claims to sovereignty over the South China Sea or Japan’s control of what Beijing calls the Diaoyu and what Tokyo says are the Senkakus. The latter is particularly important since the Obama administration has pledged to defend the Senkakus under the provisions of the US-Japan security treaty. Nothing emerged from the summit in California with Obama merely touching on the need for «protocols» on «military issues».
Of course, it is wrong to look for deliverables from such a summit and it should not be a surprise that the one specific agreement to emerge from the summit turned out to be the commitment by China to work with the US to limit the production of greenhouse gases.
The Chinese side portrays that the summit was about crafting a «new type of great power relationship». However, in the seasoned eyes of Zbigniew Brzezinski, the summit was a «successful reaffirmation of a special relationship» and «one of the more important ones [summits] in the modern American-Chinese history».
Brzezinski was conspicuously circumspect in estimating that the summit was held in «a thoroughly business-like fashion and with a constructive effect» and looking ahead, he felt he has increased confidence that «both sides will make a serious effort to find compromise formulations because they are both aware of the importance of the relationship to their own long-term interests».
Brzezinski sees the potential for a start of a process of strategic rapprochement between the US and China, but then, he also adds a caveat, «We have to learn how to live with differences, perhaps even with some occasional tensions in the relationship, but always be guided by the realization that if the relationship becomes sour, it will be mutually damaging».
While China may be keen on a paradigm shift, the US mindset still seems hooked to a transactional partnership. If it was North Korea till yesterday, from today it is going to be about «cybersecurity». The big question is whether the US can ever bring itself around to accepting an «equal» partnership – not only with China but with any country, allies and foes alike.
In Obamaspeak, «terrific» is a fairly common expression. One will have to wait till next month for the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue meeting in Washington on July 8-12 before drawing a line on the California summit.
Interestingly, Obama’s last executive decision as he set out for California was to announce Samantha Power’s nomination to the cabinet post of the US’s envoy to the United Nations, replacing Susan Rice who has been appointed as successor to Donilon. Both Power and Rice are votaries of the US’ exceptionalism and are robust advocates of humanitarian intervention. They made quite a team together with the former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who has been the target of some savage attack by the Chinese media for crafting the US’ «pivot to Asia».
Obama’s induction of Power and Rice into his foreign policy team couldn’t have gone unnoticed in Beijing. Yang reflected at his briefing in California, «We have to respect the social systems and path to development chosen by the other side… We need to seek common ground while shelving the differences». The new type of relationship also means learning to live with the old firstname.lastname@example.org
by Desh Gaurav Sekhri
The ongoing situation regarding illegality around the IPL has led to much speculation regarding the scope and scale of those involved, as well as the possible punishment that could be meted out to each of the offending individuals or group of individuals. The guilt of each initial offender is yet to be determined, and prudence requires one to consider them innocent until their guilt is clearly established and proven. That said, there are certain factors that must be taken into consideration when analysing the situation from an enforceability perspective.
From what we know today, there are clearly five categories of potential offenders who are being scrutinised and who may at some point face charges: players who may be accused of spot-fixing or match-fixing; umpires who may be accused of altering their decisions based on an off-field understanding with a bookie; bookies who take bets illegally and also may engage in spot-fixing/match-fixing; team officials with access to privileged and confidential information regarding team strategy, rosters, and perhaps a ‘too close for comfort’ equation with all members personnel of the team; and, others who either act as facilitators for betting and spot-fixing/match fixing, or are merely those who wager bets, but are not bookies or player-agents.
Unfortunately, when it comes to enforceability of any specific anti-corruption provision of the law or unethical behaviour either with or without a fiduciary responsibility to anyone, it is difficult to press for and get a conviction in India for spot-fixing, match-fixing, and even betting illegally. The threshold for proving guilt in a criminal case is high, and when it comes to specific statutes or provisions of the law that can be invoked in cases relating to sports, the prosecution will find it difficult to meet the threshold for imprisonment. This is the main reason why little was done in previous match-fixing and spot-fixing episodes in India.
And, India has plenty of company when it comes to finding itself on a sticky wicket when trying press for criminal charges in a court of law. In sophisticated sports jurisdictions across the world, typically, imprisonment for illegal betting, spot-fixing, or even match-fixing isn’t the norm. What is the norm is a stiff penalty and a life-time ban from the sport for sportspersons found to be betting or fixing. A similar penalty is invoked for umpires who act unethically. Even team officials, unless their actions lead to unjust enrichment, perjury, or irreparable harm to plaintiffs (shareholders or the public at large) who relied on the officials meeting their fiduciary responsibilities, usually face civil liability, and extended suspensions from the particular sport. When the offenses extend beyond the playing field and enter the realm of morally reprehensible behaviour that leads to more than just disappointment of the fan-base, or harm caused to a plaintiff or a class of plaintiffs who relied to their detriment on the veracity of the officials’ behaviour, does the possibility of jail time or criminal convictions usually come on the table.
In the current scenario, there are a few relevant provisions that frequently come into play when exploring possible criminal charges against offenders in any of the five categories. First and foremost however, to invoke any of these charges, the prosecution will need a plaintiff, and an offence.
For players who engage in spot-fixing or match-fixing, the plaintiff will have to be the franchisee to which they are contracted. While the remedy for the franchisee usually will be damages and perhaps the ability to invoke a prolonged suspension from cricket, if it decides to pursue criminal charges, it will be under the IPC sections 120B, 409, and 420. It will be very difficult to get a conviction in such a case, since proving conspiracy, cheating, and criminal breach of trust by a public servant/agent in the case of players might prove to be too high a threshold to meet. If however, improbable as it is, a conviction results, the maximum possible sentence under 420 would be up to 7 years in prison and a fine (compoundable by the person cheated, with the permission of the court), and under 120B, it could be up to 6 months imprisonment and a fine (non-compoundable). If convicted under 409, then the maximum sentence could be lifetime in prison or up to ten years in prison and a fine (non-compoundable).
For umpires, the plaintiff would be the IPL and not the franchisee since the umpires would be contracted to the central league and not individual teams. The punishment and sections however would likely be the same as those listed out for players above.
When it comes to bookies, the IPC sections 420 and 120B will come into play, as will the Public Gambling Act, 1867. While the act is somewhat archaic, and one doesn’t know the level of leeway a prosecutor would have in order to prove that a gambling house can be a virtual one and transactions conducted online or over the phone meet the threshold of the act. That said, if pressing for a conviction under this act, section 3 states that offenders will be liable to a fine not exceeding two-hundred rupees, or to imprisonment of either description, as defined in the IPC for any term up to three months. The maximum penalty for bookies (or individuals who act as fixers) under sections 420 and 120B will likely be the same as those for players and umpires. The plaintiff in this case, since betting is an illegal activity being conducted, might possibly be even a fan or the authorities. For bettors who don’t engage in spot-fixing or match-fixing, section 4 of the Public Gambling Act, 1867 should be relevant, although still a long shot, since the definition of a gaming house is still unclear. The punishment here would be a fine up to one hundred rupees, or imprisonment of either description, as defined in the IPC for up to a month. It is important however to note that betting on cricket may not even come under the Public Gambling Act, 1867, since section 12 of the act states that any game requiring skill will not be covered under this act.
The final class of offenders deals with those who constitute team officials/owners, who act in a capacity of fiduciary responsibility to all the stakeholders, and are privy to confidential and privileged information. If convicted, it’s likely that IPC section 409 will be brought into play, although once again it’s difficult to envision a conviction under this section for a team owner in what is considered a league that entertains fans, as opposed to relating to national duty representing one’s country. But, in terms of liability, a team official found to be in violation of his fiduciary responsibility, and engaging in activities such as sharing of confidential information, spot-fixing, match-fixing, and betting on the team, may be vulnerable. If the company which owns the team is a listed company and has shareholders, then the shareholders may well be the plaintiffs, as could the central league, or anyone else to whom the official or the team owed a fiduciary responsibility. If convicted under the IPC section 409, the punishment will be the same as mentioned above for players, and if convicted under 120B and 420 for fixing, then the punishment will also be similar to had been set out for players.
India is faced with a unique scenario where internal compliances and processes of the league may not have taken into account the punishment to be meted out to the offenders contracted with the IPL or teams, nor there are likely to be statutes that will lead to convictions for fixers, bookies, or bettors. This is why a new anti-fixing/anti-corruption legislation is being seriously contemplated by the lawmakers to ensure that the punishment matches the crime in a situation where fixing or other nefarious activity is proven. Although the finer nuances of this legislation will need to be drafted very carefully, because there is such a thing as over-regulation, and the removing of the prospect of human error or skill limitations must be taken into consideration before enacting such a legislation. Among other aspects, the scope of the legislation should be limited to off-field collusion or understandings that lead to an altering of the on-field results or performances; and, to maintaining an arms length in all activities that lead to a possible conflict of interest between principals and agents. Also, the legislation should allow plaintiffs who can prove that they personally have been harmed by the actions of the offender, and not merely invoke a ‘greater public good’ provision that sometimes accompanies even frivolous PILs.
India is a relatively nascent sports jurisdiction, but now the time has come to look closely at processes and laws that govern it. Using international precedents and also looking inwards at our unique circumstances, it’s likely that a solution for facilitating ethical behaviour in sports will be found.
(The author is a sports attorney, and leads the Sports initiative at J Sagar Associates, a national law firm. He is licensed to practice in Delhi and New York, and has experience in sports management, sports marketing and the business of sports.)email@example.com
John P Mathew
Rape. It’s a crude four-letter word. And it happened again, in the national capital rocked by a violent rape just a few months ago, in fact, four months ago. The inspiration for this blog has been the esteemed Nilanjana Roy’s article in The Hindu which appears here.
Now, admit this: rape and brutalisation has been happening for a as long as India existed, or even before, according to our friend Henry. It’s only coming out now because some people became angry and made a big issue of it. He said this to us yesterday when we were on our routine Sunday evening walk. And, the first sentence of this post was also said by him. He pointed to a few youths disporting before us and said, “after two pegs these people become like animals.” He should know, he likes his drink. The youth of India, corrupted from the mindless sexual incitement they see in films and the media, want a part of the action. “If Shahruk and Salman can, why can’ we?” Really? We ask, a bit incredulously. Yes, Henry replies, they are so vulnerable to what they see on screen, it is easy to incite them to any kind of violence.
Now, we have a simple solution to the rape problem. Let women police all women related issues. Recruit enough women so that half the police force consists of women. We have seen with our own eyes how women can enforce the law, and, how impartial and incorruptible they can be. (Now don’t give us that lame excuse about: women can’t do night shifts [yes they can, call centre women do], women can’t run after thieves etc. How many pot-bellied policemen have you seen running after thieves, eh?) Let them enforce the law on rapes, molestation dowry deaths and the like. Let these cases be decided by women judges. See what difference it would make. Can’t Sonia Gandhi and her cronies do this much for the women of India? After all, she is a woman, isn’t she?
That may seem like a rhetorical question. But we need answers if India should not turn into the rape capital of the firstname.lastname@example.org
by Vidya Shankar Aiyar
Don’t get me wrong. Not that he needs any defending or that he can’t defend himself. Nor am I a fan of either Rahul Gandhi or Narendra Modi. But let’s give Rahul Gandhi’s speech at the CII an honest shot. I feel the need to say what I don’t mean about Rahul Gandhi, because he seems to be so concerned to get the message across on what he is not. He is not the swashbuckling hero on horseback to save you. He is not the pro-market/corporate sector honcho. He is not going to answer questions that you want answered such as on his marriage or him becoming PM. He basically doesn’t want to be judged. That’s the long and short of his speech at the CII, or anywhere else, for that matter.
He seems to want to say through his speech, its language and informal delivery, that he is a cool guy, like one of us. Just like us. A normal guy. He has the same fears and hopes for his country that you and I do. He sees all the flaws that we berate. He seeks the same answers that we do. He may be privileged but that has not blinded him. He too battles privilege for it shackles rather than empowers him. And he is working on turning that equation around. He wants inclusive growth. He wants to hear us, the voiceless. Or rather, he wants our voices heard, even if it is not immediately clear who in government is to hear those voices, assuming it is the government he is referring email@example.com
“It is a landmark judgement,” Sakhtivel Selvaraj, a leading Delhi-based health economist, tells me, hours after the Indian Supreme Court’s decision to reject a plea by Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis to patent an updated version of its cancer drug, Glivec.
Monday’s decision means generic drugmakers can continue to sell copies of the drug at a lower price in India, one of the fastest growing pharmaceutical markets in the world.
For one, Dr Selvaraj says, the judgement upholds India’s “progressive” patent laws that throw out frivolous patents and clearly distinguish between what is new and what already exists.
“The law sends out the signal that we don’t want to encourage companies to take patents on substances which already exist.”
More importantly, the decision is a major boost to cheap life-saving drugs in a country where the healthcare system cannot cope with the demands on it and most people end up buying their own medicines if they can afford to.
India spends a little over 4% of its GDP on healthcare, compared with an average of 8-9% among developed countries.
Some 70% of this spending is by individuals and households. A substantial amount of household spending in India is on medicines, government figures show. Most of that is on generic drugs as patented drugs comprise less than 10% of drug sales.
That explains how critical cheap drugs are to saving lives in India.
Also, as experts like Dr Selvaraj point out, the judgement will be happy tidings for people around the world.
India, they say, is the “pharmacy of the world”.
Some 40% of the drugs produced by its $11bn pharmaceutical industry, one of the largest in the world, are exported. The majority of the exports comprise cheap generics.
Not surprisingly Novartis is unhappy with the ruling – it says the move “discourages innovative drug discovery essential to advancing medical science for patients”.
The company had sounded out a warning ahead of the judgement.
“If the situation stays as now, all improvements on an original compound are not protectable and such drugs would probably not be rolled out in India,” Paul Herrling, former Novartis’s head of research and development, told the Financial Times.
“Why should we?” he added
Experts like Dr Selvaraj believe such warnings are specious.
“India can actually hold such a threat out to other developing countries, not the other way round. A substantial amount of its generic drug market is in Europe and the US,” he says.
Also, India possibly doesn’t need to worry about this decision affecting foreign investment in its drug industry, which, at less than 2%, is low.
Most foreign pharmaceutical companies appear keener to acquire Indian companies, or they trade in imported medicines.
“They make very little medicine here,” Dr Selvaraj says.
Glivec, which is used to treat chronic myeloid leukaemia and other cancers, costs about $2,600 (£1,710) a month. The generic equivalent is currently available in India for just $175.
Do drugs really have to be so expensive? asks Michelle Childs of Medicins Sans Frontiers.
It’s a good question.
“It is true that innovative new drugs can change the way we treat people and we need more of them,” she wrote in an article on the BBC News website last week. “But innovation is of little use if people cannot access new treatments because they are so expensive.”
Clearly, as Michelle Childs says, a new approach is firstname.lastname@example.org
India is poised to become one of the four largest military powers in the world by the end of the decade. It needs to think about what that means
UNLIKE many other Asian countries—and in stark contrast to neighbouring Pakistan—India has never been run by its generals. The upper ranks of the powerful civil service of the colonial Raj were largely Hindu, while Muslims were disproportionately represented in the army. On gaining independence the Indian political elite, which had a strong pacifist bent, was determined to keep the generals in their place. In this it has happily succeeded.
But there have been costs. One is that India exhibits a striking lack of what might be called a strategic culture. It has fought a number of limited wars—one with China, which it lost, and several with Pakistan, which it mostly won, if not always convincingly—and it faces a range of threats, including jihadist terrorism and a persistent Maoist insurgency. Yet its political class shows little sign of knowing or caring how the country’s military clout should be deployed.
That clout is growing fast. For the past five years India has been the world’s largest importer of weapons. A deal for $12 billion or more to buy 126 Rafale fighters from France is slowly drawing towards completion. India has more active military personnel than any Asian country other than China, and its defence budget has risen to $46.8 billion. Today it is the world’s seventh-largest military spender; IHS Jane’s, a consultancy, reckons that by 2020 it will have overtaken Japan, France and Britain to come in fourth. It has a nuclear stockpile of 80 or more warheads to which it could easily add more, and ballistic missiles that can deliver some of them to any point in Pakistan. It has recently tested a missile with a range of 5,000km (3,100 miles), which would reach most of China.
Which way to face?
Apart from the always-vocal press and New Delhi’s lively think-tanks, India and its leaders show little interest in military or strategic issues. Strategic defence reviews like those that take place in America, Britain and France, informed by serving officers and civil servants but led by politicians, are unknown in India. The armed forces regard the Ministry of Defence (headed by AK Antony – see picture) as woefully ignorant on military matters, with few of the skills needed to provide support in areas such as logistics and procurement (they also resent its control over senior promotions). Civil servants pass through the ministry rather than making careers there. The Ministry of External Affairs, which should be crucial to informing the country’s strategic vision, is puny. Singapore, with a population of 5m, has a foreign service about the same size as India’s. China’s is eight times larger.
The main threats facing India are clear: an unstable, fading but dangerous Pakistan; a swaggering and intimidating China. One invokes feelings of superiority close to contempt, the other inferiority and envy. In terms of India’s regional status and future prospects as a “great power”, China matters most; but the vexatious relationship with Pakistan still dominates military thinking.
- The Economistkeep looking »