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When the political establishment deserts you

15 Oct

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/the-fury-and-failure-of-donald-trump-w444943
This is a brilliant article in Rolling Stone magazine about the anger of the Republican party’s base at the realisation that their leaders have essentially sold them down the river through the decades. It’s also a great reminder of how populations react to the obnoxious and snobbish behaviour of elites, and how they respond – with Trump. 
In a very different sense, the snobbish behaviour of the UPA, and the perception of their nepotism laid the groundwork for the Modi wave, and the consequent emergence of illiberalism as a legitimate thread of democratic discourse. 

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The Asylum Debate

5 Jul

This article written by Roshni Shanker and Vasudha Reddy originally appeared in Outlook Online, and can be accessed here

Earlier this week, India joined the list of countries that have denied asylum to Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency consultant, stating that it sees no reason to accede to the request. The decision comes only a few months after Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, lauded India’s liberal approach to refugees and hailed it as an example for the rest if the world to follow. Despite not being a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (“the 1951 Convention”) and its 1967 Protocol, India has over the years adopted a generous and compassionate approach towards asylum-seekers and has provided direct assistance to some 200,000 refugees from different countries. In fact, in the past India has extended asylum to some of the most controversial figures in history such as the Dalai Lama, Sri Lankan Tamil leaders, Aung San Suu Kyi’s political associates etc. Thus, the refusal of Snowden’s asylum request has ignited a furious debate on the law and politics underlying the issue. Many believe that turning a blind eye to the US government’s relentless pursuit of Snowden and denying him the right to asylum is a violation of fundamental human rights principles. However, others classify Snowden as a criminal and hold that a State has the prerogative to determine who they want to grant asylum. The debate has brought to light a number of legal issues, where the arguments of both sides merit consideration.

The right to asylum under international law is governed by the 1951 Convention. This is the key legal document which defines who a refugee is and enumerates his/her rights as well as the obligations of signatories. Certain tenets under the 1951 Convention have attained the status of customary international law, i.e. principles of international law which all countries have to adhere to irrespective of whether they have signed a specific convention or not. The most crucial of these is the principle of non-refoulément which places an obligation on States to not return refugees to countries where they face a serious threat to their lives or safety. Therefore, before denying an asylum request, States need to consider if the asylum-seeker qualifies as a refugee under law. Under Article 1 of the 1951 Convention, a person is considered to be a refugee if he has a well-founded fear of persecution owing to his race, religion, nationality, membership in a social group or political opinion.

The first consideration is whether the asylum-seeker’s fear of returning to his/her country is reasonable and justified i.e. “well-founded”. To determine this in the present case, one needs to examine how the US has treated others tried for similar offences. Given that Snowden has been charged by the US courts with espionage and leaking confidential information, his passport has been revoked and arrest warrants have been issued, the likelihood of him facing serious consequences for his actions is obvious. His fear of returning to the US is thus, well-founded.

The next question is whether the consequences Snowden is likely to face would amount to persecution. “Persecution” refers to serious violations of human rights such as torture, cruel or inhuman treatment or punishment. It is to be differentiated from “prosecution” where a person is brought to trial in accordance with due process of law. This is where opinion differs on Snowden. His opponents argue that if he is returned to the US, he will be given a fair trial with legal representation, as other similarly charged persons have been. Some also contend that he could have exercised his constitutional right to freedom of speech without breaking the law and therefore, he should be treated as a fugitive from justice. His supporters contend that as a whistle-blower, Snowden could not have used State mechanisms to expose State wrongdoing and point to the case of Bradley Manning, who has been subject to torture and severe ill-treatment while in detention, as confirmed by the United Nations Rapporteur. Therefore they believe that the consequences Snowden is likely to face would go beyond “prosecution” to “persecution”.

Finally, if it is determined that Snowden is likely to face persecution, then a nexus needs to be established with one of the five grounds under the 1951 Convention. Given the facts, Snowden can claim that he is either being targeted for his political opinion or his membership of a particular social group, in this case whistle-blowers. This is also under debate. Some believe that his actions do not amount to a mere expression of political belief but have jeopardized national security and diplomatic relations and for the same reason, he should not be regarded as a whistle-blower but as a spy. The contrasting opinion is that in exposing the imbalance of power between the State and its citizens he has expressed a political opinion against the extent of State surveillance, which also makes him a whistle-blower.

Even if Snowden qualifies as a refugee as per the said criteria, Article 1F(b) of the 1951 Convention denies protection to persons who have been convicted of serious non-political crimes. Here too opinion is divided on the nature of his actions, with those who believe that it was clearly political and others who view it as more criminal than political (thereby amounting to a serious non-political crime).

Had Snowden been physically present on Indian soil, the government would have been automatically bound to grant him asylum if the aforementioned criteria were met. However, since he has been making requests for asylum to various countries without being present there, and the 1951 Convention is silent on the subject of physical presence as a precondition for claiming asylum, States have been responding in various ways. While some States have required his physical presence to even consider his claim, India has considered and rejected it, suggesting that physical presence is not required. Due to the lack of binding international standards, States typically rely on their domestic asylum framework and established principles of international law. For example, the European Union has a common asylum framework which sets out a uniform procedure for handling asylum claims.

It is clear that Snowden’s quest for asylum has thrown up many complex legal issues. The determination of his legal status cannot be resolved easily and warrants extensive legal analysis. External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, has stated that India has a “very careful and restrictive [asylum] policy”, which Snowden presumably did not conform to. However, India has never had a domestic legal framework for extending asylum. Further, India’s unequivocal denial of the asylum request within a day of it being made raises concerns over India’s political will overriding principled considerations and over whether the request was properly assessed under international law. In the absence of a clear domestic framework for extending asylum, decisions such as that taken on the Snowden case give the impression of the process being ad-hoc and arbitrary, thereby underscoring the urgent need for such a framework.


Roshni Shanker & Vasudha Reddy run a refugee legal aid centre in New Delhi called Ara Legal Initiative and were formerly UNHCR lawyers. They can be contacted at office AT araleagl DOT in

Anti-corruption clauses in international trade agreements: Should the Indo-EU Agreement have one?

6 Jun

 

India and the European Union are closer, now more than ever before, to finalizing the Trade and Investment Agreement (Indo-EU TIA/ Agreement), which they have been negotiating since 2007.[1] This is perhaps the perfect time for India to press for ‘anti-corruption’ provisions to be included in the still-being negotiated Agreement. Taking cue from its experience in the Bofors scam, the 2G scam and more recently, the Augusta Westland scam, India could use the Indo-EU TIA as a platform to deter potential foreign investors and trade partners from inducing a corruption-infested culture in developing economies. Also, this would send out a strong anti-corruption message at a global level from a Government widely perceived as scam-ridden.

In the context of international trade and investment agreements, an ‘anti-corruption provision’ can have different meanings. It may mean a provision obligating the countries party to a trade agreement to combat corruption within their respective countries by adopting global anti-corruption conventions, increasing transparency in Government procurement processes, etc.[2] More unconventionally, it may refer to a provision that deprives a trade transaction or investment infected by corruption of the standard protection offered by the trade or investment agreement. This post concerns itself with the latter meaning.

International trade and investment treaties offer certain protections to foreign traders and investors. The existing legal regime in this area suggests that investments proved to have been tainted by corruption are divested of such standard protection. The award made by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in what is popularly known as the World Duty Free case can be cited as the beacon in this direction.[3] The litigation involved a claim brought by a foreign investor against the Government of Kenya. The investor sought damages from Kenya for having wrongfully expropriated[4] the investor’s duty-free business. In the course of the proceedings, the claimant-investor admitted to having bribed the Kenyan President to procure a license to operate the duty-free business. On this basis alone, ICSID rejected the investor’s claim by relying on the concept of transnational public policy.

The more recent Argentine-Seimens case[5] should also inspire India to press for anti-corruption provisions in the Indo-EU TIA. In 2002, Siemens, a German conglomerate, instituted arbitration proceedings against Argentina under the German-Argentine Bilateral Investment Treaty. Siemens alleged unlawful expropriation by the Argentine Government for having unilaterally terminated a Government contract procured by Siemens in Argentina. The tribunal directed Argentina to pay damages to the tune of USD 200 million to Siemens for having unlawfully expropriated its investment in the country. During the pendency of the proceedings, it was found that Siemens had bribed Argentine officials for procuring the relevant tender. Consequently, Siemens voluntarily surrendered its award and withdrew all claims related to the case.

In addition to combating corruption within the country, inclusion of anti-corruption provisions in the Indo-EU TIA will benefit India strategically. Not only will it result in dispersing the general perception of the vulnerability of developing economies to corruption, such a provision will also enable the Indian Government to indisputably avoid extending the benefits of a treaty to a foreign investor who is proved to have engaged in corrupt practices in the course of doing business in India.

Many international trade and investment treaties contain provisions that protect only those investments that are made ‘in accordance with’ the law of the country in which investment is made (commonly referred to as the Host Country). More often than not, countries defend acts of expropriation by arguing that the investment in question was not, in fact, made in accordance with the law of the Host Country. For instance, in Inceysa Vallisoletana S.L. v. Republic of El Salvador[6], Inceysa, a Spanish company, instituted arbitration proceedings under the El Salvador/Spain BIT claiming compensation from the Salvadorian Government for unlawful expropriation of its Salvadorian business. El Salvador argued that Inceysa had obtained the relevant Salvadorian concession illegally by submitting false financial statements and making misrepresentations. The tribunal accepted these objections and dismissed the claim, as the investment was not made in accordance with law.

To conclude, both practice and jurisprudence indicate that the defense of corruption is increasingly available to countries fighting compensation claims for expropriation under investment and trade treaties. Such defense has, in the past, been allowed on the grounds of international public policy or the ‘in accordance with the law’ provision discussed above. However, instead of relying on jurisprudential history or a somewhat broadly defined concept of transnational public policy, it may well be worth India’s time to negotiate anti-corruption safeguards in the Indo-EU TIA at this stage itself. Moreover, given the track record of the EU in promoting anti-corruption and bribery conventions at a global level, it may be a far less contested issue in the negotiations.


[1] More details on the negotiations can be found on http://commerce.nic.in/trade/international_ta_current_details.asp#b24.

[2] For instance, several free trade agreements negotiated by the United States of America contain broad commitments to combat corruption in international trade and business.

[3] World Duty Free Co. Ltd. v. Republic of Kenya ICSID Case No. ARB/00/7, Award dated October 4, 2006.

[4] Expropriation broadly refers to the State depriving an individual or an entity of its business or property against the latter’s will. The State may indulge in expropriation by various means such as nationalization, revocation of license, unilateral appointment of a receiver, etc.

[5] Siemens A.G. v. The Argentine Republic ICSID Case No. ARB/02/8. Text of the judgment can be found on www.italaw.com/cases/1026

[6] ICSID Case No. ARB/03/26, Award of August 2, 2006, available at: http://ita.law.uvic.ca/documents/Inceysa_Vallisoletana_en_000.pdf

Bhopal Gas Paper Leaks: Minutes of GoM meeting leaked

25 Jun

The minutes of the meeting of the government GoM constituted to look into the Bhopal Gas Claims and the recent Court judgement were put up on the website of The Hindu.  I had saved a copy of the minutes: Full_Text__Minutes__133855a.  Though there is nothing very sensational in the minutes, what it does reveal is that the US has already refused to extradite Anderson to India in 2004, and reiterated the same position in 2008.  So, promises of getting Anderson extradited back to India may be political rhetoric rather than being based on sound legal deadlines.

India v. China III: Current Flashpoints

1 Feb

In this post, I very briefly summarise the current flashpoints between India and China.  I am also mentioning 10 points about the strategic interests of both countries in the Indian Ocean, as we tend to overlook that in most discussions on border disputes.

Jammu and Kashmir – Since India was invaded by China in 1962, The part known as Aksai Chin continues to be occupied by China.  India claims the occupied territory to be an integral part of Jammu and Kashmir, whereas the Chinese do not show Aksai Chin as an Indian territory on their maps of the region.

Tibet – One of the original points of dispute between the two countries.  India recognised Tibet as an independent country before China invaded the country, and then gave refuge to the Dalai Lama.

Arunachal and Sikkim – As one of my previous posts on China discussed, the Tibetans also considered parts of Arunachal to be their territory.  After the Sino-Indian conflict, the dispute became a Sino-Indian one.  Depending on varying media reports, the Chinese claim all of Arunachal (or one small part) and Sikkim is their territory.

Pakistan – India alleges that China proliferated nuclear weapons as well as other arms to Pakistan, and that it also provides substantial military aid to the Pakistani government.

River-Water disputes – From time to time, one hears reports of the Chinese planning to build large dams on rivers which originate in China or the Tibetan plateau and flow into India (and also into Pakistan). The major ones of these such as the Indus and the Brahmaputra support thousands of kilometres of local economies.  Any news of dam building is therefore met with great consternation, though the Indian government downplays such reports.

The Indian Ocean: The Indian Ocean is bordered from side to side by almost all the major Islamic countries, it is also dominated by two immense bays – The Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal which border Pakistan and Myanmar respectively.

In other words, more than just a geographic feature, the Indian Ocean is also an idea. It combines the centrality of Islam with global energy politics and the rise of India and China to reveal a multilayered, multipolar world.

The article from which the lines above are quoted makes the following points (quoted):

1.  India’s and China’s aspirations…have compelled the two countries “to redirect their gazes from land to the seas…”

2. 90 percent of global commerce and about 65 percent of all oil travel by sea. Globalization has been made possible by the cheap and easy shipping of containers on tankers, and the Indian Ocean accounts for fully half the world’s container traffic.  Global energy needs are expected to rise by 45 percent between 2006 and 2030, and almost half of the growth in demand will come from India and China.

3.  India is seeking to increase its influence from the Plateau of Iran to the Gulf of Thailand — an expansion west and east meant to span the zone of influence of the Raj’s viceroys. India’s trade with the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf and Iran, with which India has long enjoyed close economic and cultural ties, is booming.

4.  India has also been expanding its military and economic ties with Myanmar, to the east. Democratic India does not have the luxury of spurning Myanmar’s junta because Myanmar is rich in natural resources — oil, natural gas, coal, zinc, copper, uranium, timber, and hydropower — resources in which the Chinese are also heavily invested.

5.  India is enlarging its navy in the same spirit. With its 155 warships, the Indian navy is already one of the world’s largest.

6. The Chinese government has already adopted a “string of pearls” strategy for the Indian Ocean, which consists of setting up a series of ports in friendly countries along the ocean’s northern seaboard.

7.  Beijing operates surveillance facilities on islands deep in the Bay of Bengal. In Myanmar, whose junta gets billions of dollars in military assistance from Beijing, the Chinese are constructing (or upgrading) commercial and naval bases and building roads, waterways, and pipelines to link the Bay of Bengal to the southern Chinese province of Yunnan.

8.  The Chinese government is also envisioning a canal across the Isthmus of Kra, in Thailand, to link the Indian Ocean to China’s Pacific coast — a project on the scale of the Panama Canal and one that could further tip Asia’s balance of power in China’s favor by giving China’s burgeoning navy and commercial maritime fleet easy access to a vast oceanic continuum stretching all the way from East Africa to Japan and the Korean Peninsula.

9.  All of these activities are unnerving the Indian government. With China building deep-water ports to its west and east and a preponderance of Chinese arms sales going to Indian Ocean states, India fears being encircled by China unless it expands its own sphere of influence. The two countries’ overlapping commercial and political interests are fostering competition, and even more so in the naval realm than on land.

10.  As the competition between India and China suggests, the Indian Ocean is where global struggles will play out in the twenty-first century.  The US has already recognised this and has started making necessary shifts.  The document Marine Corps Vision and Strategy 2025 also concluded that the Indian Ocean and its adjacent waters will be a central theater of global conflict and competition this century.

India v. China II: Tibet

26 Jan

For this entry, I decided to look into the question of Tibet, and came across references to a meeting very few have heard of.  It was probably the last meeting at an international forum that Tibet represented itself as an independent country.

The meeting I refer to is called the Asian Relations Conference of 1947. references to it seem to be strewn all over the net, with speeches of Nehru, Gandhi, and the Tibetan representative being quoted.  Surprisingly, these documents do not mention what representatives from other countries said!!  One prominent expert on the subject states that most countries, including China, had differences of opinion with India, and made them clear at the Conference.

Interestingly, one other write-up on the event also mentions something relevant to the current border dispute regarding Arunachal Pradesh.  It appears that when Tibet was invited to the Conference as an independent nation, it thought the Conference was primarily about border delimitation.  “They collected seven boxes of original documents relating to the Indo-Tibetan borders, including the original Simla Convention documents. They thought that they could eventually claim back some parts of the NEFA (today Arunachal Pradesh) and perhaps also Darjeeling, Kalimpong.”  This statement gives some historical context to the current border dispute between China and India in that region.

Immediately prior to the conference, the Chinese objected to the Tibetan delegation appearing independently.  They objected saying that they would represent Tibet and that it was not necessary to have a separate delegation of Tibetans.  However, the Indian government, after consulting on this matter at the highest levels, decided to allow the Tibetans to represent themselves independently.  Nehru himself replied to Menon a few days before the beginning of the Conference:

“Unable to understand Chinese attitude to Asian Conference when Conference Organisers have fully explained the position which is in no way injurious to Chinese interests. Non-official cultural conference cannot be expected to consider political niceties. We are unable to say whom Tibetans represent till they come.

This statement, and the government’s step of consulting internally without bothering to clarify the particular anxieties of China and Tibet reflects a serious lack of knowledge about diplomatic niceties.  Another criticism levelled against Nehru and his conduct of foreign policy was that because he was head and shoulders above most others in the country in matters of foreign policy, he never invested enough in creating a cohesive institution to deal with foreign affairs.  For a long time, he handled both foreign affairs along with his job as Prime Minister.  His, and the government’s lack of application to a tangible border problem (as well as Tibet) must have only served to heighten tensions between China and India.

India v. China I: Early on

25 Jan

Beginning today, I am planning to write a series of posts on relations between India and China.  I mainly intend to summarise facts and opinions which are being talked about, rather than formulate my own opinions.  My sources are mostly going to be newspaper articles and so on, and also government information, whenever possible.  In this post, I am going to start from the early years of our foreign relations.  I apologise in advance if the series of posts are not historically continuous in spite of my best efforts.

Part I: Before the War

Most conventional knowledge of Indo-China relations before the 1962 war basically rests on the assumption that the two countries were great friends.  I for one, was taught how we welcomed the newly communist China into the international arena, and pushed for its acceptance in the global community.  Then we signed the Panchsheel agreement, and “Hindi – Chini bhai bhai” became the catch-phrase for discussing our relations.  Then we gave refuge to the Dalai Lama, and the Chinese got angry, and decided to invade us, thereby stabbing us in the back.

Recent documents challenge this rosy understanding of our relations with China.  According to a recent newspaper article, India’s ambassador to China in 1958 was told by Prime Minister Nehru not to trust the country despite the Panchsheel agreement. The Indian premier was extremely wary of the country and thought that Beijing had “deliberately chosen to be anti-Indian”. The newspaper article quotes from the Indian ambassador’s (G. Parthasarathi) diary:

“So, GP, when has the foreign office told you Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai? Don’t you believe it. I don’t trust the Chinese one bit, despite Panchsheel and all that. The Chinese are arrogant, devious, hypocritical and thoroughly unreliable.”

“They have deliberately chosen to be anti-India. Your brief from me, therefore, is to be extremely vigilant about all Chinese intentions, policies and actions towards us.”

These words make it amply clear that contrary to conventional understanding that India was caught napping when the Chinese attacked, the Indian leadership was apprehensive of China.

China also saw the Indian Prime Minister as ‘discourteous’.  It was also wary of the world view expressed by Nehru in his book ‘Discovery of India’. China believed that Nehru’s book revealed his idea of a great Indian empire encompassing Malaysia, Ceylon among others.

The mutual distrust highlights how little effort was made to understand each other by the governments of the time.

Google vs. China: Exit, or Pushed out?

19 Jan

A recent article in Foreign Policy has a different take on Google’s move to Exit China (previous blog entry here).  It claims that:

1. The day Google announced it might pull out of China, “Baidu, Google’s dominant rival in China, saw its Nasdaq stock shoot up $64.01, or 16.6 percent. China’s third- and fourth-place search engines, Sina and Sohu, witnessed their stocks increase 4.9 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively.”

2.  Google has been systematically forced out of China.

3. Google’s exit is just the latest in a long line of foreign Internet firms forced to leave the country on the shaky rationale of national security and censorship.

4. Youtube was similarly shut down in March 2009 as it had started becoming increasingly popular.  Now, Youtube’s direct Chinese competitors are the 8th and 10th most popular sites in China.

5. Numerous other internet sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and even Flickr have been pushed out to protect domestic web-sites/ applications.

So people everywhere may be rejoicing due to Google’s principled exit from China, but the article argues that this has in fact happened because of sustained pressure by the Chinese government to protect its own industries.

New piece on India’s villainy!!

9 Jan

It does feel good to have one’s opinions vindicated!! Found this piece in Foreign Policy itself:

Why India Is No Villain – Takes on the article discussed below and takes it apart.

Bullying the Indian Elephant

9 Jan

A recent article in Foreign Policy titled ‘The Elephant in the Room‘ talks about how India gives ‘Global Governance the biggest headache’.   It tries to make some rather provocative assertions:

1. India has stubbornly refused to sign the NPT and started an arms race in Asia by testing nuclear weapons in 1998.

2. India single-handedly killed the Doha round negotiations at the WTO.

3. India also flat-out rejected the proposal to accept any binding emission targets with regard to climate change.

4. Paul Wolfowitz was removed from the World Bank by conspiring Indians because he turned his attention to corruption in World Bank projects related to India.

5. India is not a “liberal democratic paradise” because: (a) It limits outside assistance to nongovernmental organizations and most educational institutions; (b) It restricts the work of foreign scholars (and sometimes journalists) and bans books; (c) India also regularly refuses visas for international rights advocates. In 2003, India denied a visa to the head of Amnesty International, Irene Khan; (d) “In the U.N. General Assembly and the U.N. Human Rights Council, India votes regularly with human rights offenders, international scofflaws, and enemies of democracy.”

This leads the author to conclude that India’s claim for a seat on the Security Council is rather doubtful because of its petulant track record in international fora.

I do not claim to be very knowledgeable about foreign policy, but even at the outset, the article seems to be ranting against all things Indian.  Is India’s democratic credential the real issue here, or is it India’s posturing in International affairs?  Does corruption in implementation of World Bank Projects have anything to do with India playing spoiler in WTO negotiations?  Does India’s faulty human rights record have anything to do with the claim for a permanent seat in the Security Council when countries which were at war and kept invading each other at various points of time in the last century are on the Council too?

For a person who writes for a prestigious magazine, the author seems to have forgotten that national posturing at international negotiations is based on (1) safeguarding national interest, and (2) promoting national interest by developing greater clout at the international level!!

1. Non-proliferation:  If signing the NPT is the litmus test for proof of non-proliferation, why hasn’t the US (which has recently been yelling about ending nuclear weapons and so on) signed the NPT?  India’s stance is perfectly that: abide by the standards you seek to impose, and if there is consistency in state practice, India will follow suit.

2. Trade and climate: Again, I am not an expert on trade negotiations and climate change, but why should one particular country be pin-pointed for the lack of development of an international consensus?  The two largest emitters of Greenhouse gases are unwilling to accept binding targets for reducing emissions, transfer of funds under technology transfer agreements under the Kyoto Protocol has been abysmally low, Kyoto Protocol targets have not been met by almost any developed country, and yet India is expected to be the sole paragon of virtue by accepting emission targets?

3. Corruption: India is corrupt.  There is in fact large-scale diversion of funds.  India must do better.  But to argue that the Wolfowitz was thrown out by conspiring Indians smacks of naivete.  Had Wolfowitz not acted in a thoroughly unprofessional manner himself, what would the Indians have conspired about?  The author seems to suggest if not that, the conspirators might even have created grounds for him to be removed based on his choice of pyjamas.

4. Human rights: India’s human rights record is far from perfect and there have been way too many incidents of communal, sectarian and ethnic violence for a successful democracy to live with.  However, Indian democracy is all of six decades old.  Its development as a democracy since independence has been largely peaceful considering most successful democracies have been established after revolutions, war, repression, and genocide against native populations.  And in all these cases (please note also, all these countries had a remarkably homogeneous population), it has taken generations, in every case, to heal divisive wounds.  I do not recall having heard of any of these countries displaying humility and regret at the international stage.  That is not say India should not be doing more. I merely make the point that protecting human rights come at an economic cost, and for the state to have the capacity to create more efficient systems, it needs to have more money and more muscle.

At an international fora, countries come together to benefit from each other and to arrive at a consensus for mutual gain.  All countries exhibit a tendency of being defensive about their own faults and try to cover them up.  India cannot even be called a rude negotiator when numerous US delegations have simply folded their papers and walked out of crucial negotiations inimical to their interests.  Is India expected to behave like a good boy and show the other cheek when its interests are clearly not being protected?

In short, a ‘liberal democratic paradise’ does not exist.  Anywhere.  And all countries claim themselves to be shining beacons of virtue only to increase their bargaining skills.

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