What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Analogies: Nepal and India's northeast

In the morning, one of my students gave a presentation on the Nepalese coup d'état of 2005, and he highlighted this excerpt from ICG's report about the events. "A retired Indian general with longstanding Nepal connections" is quoted on page 8 as having said:
"I'm still shocked by the incompetence of the RNA (Royal Nepalese Army) and by its dangerous tactics. For example, in this day and age we would never use helicopter gunships in counter-insurgency work -- helicopters for transport, sure, but this is a war that can only be fought on the ground level. Firing into jungles from a thousand feet up has no real military benefit and is bound to be counter-productive when innocent civilians end up as victims."
Sure, this holds some relevance for the campaign in Afghanistan as well. Not that helicopters are firing into a jungle there, like that, but as everyone knows, there is a tendency to use a lot of CAS (close air support).

Meanwhile, it was very timely for me to have that thing come up now for other reasons, too. I'll be interested to hear just this afternoon a lecture by Gulshan Sachdeva on a "Development strategy for the Indian Northeast." Will of course get back to you to say a few comments perhaps, at the end of the day.

One more quote from the ICG report, same page, this time from another Indian academic, telling you nothing new, just showing how much of a coincidence it is that I ended up hearing a presentation based partly on this report today:
"S.D. Muni, the former ambassador widely recognised as India's leading academic authority on Nepal. "India's own experience in the northeast and in areas affected by Naxalite Maoist guerrillas is that military methods may, at best, help, but cannot deliver a solution to internal revolts and insurgencies." "
The promised update: Prof. Sachdeva gave a very interesting presentation. I wouldn't want to outline his ideas as though he would have given his lecture to the readership of this blog. But I will point out at least one thing.

Over at the Frontline Club, Alex van Linschoten lists a couple of issues he would like to see the media cover this year - stories that could be especially interesting in his view. All are interesting, indeed. The very first is: "NGOs who indirectly (or directly) fund the Taliban." Now, this is something also of interest when it comes to India's Northwest. Not really because of NGOs. There, in many places, it's state-run projects where contractors end up passing on state development money to guerrillas, to buy operational security, generating a vicious cirlce that perpetuates the insurgency.

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