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Confronting Pakistan’s drone challenge

The need to invest in improving anti-drone technologies 

by Pranay Kotasthane (@pranaykotas)

ISPR’s press release on Monday featured a few photographs of Indian border posts, reportedly taken from the drone shot down by Pakistani troops on July 15th 2015. After this release, the Pakistani Urdu media quickly followed suit. The daily Nawa-i-waqt even carried a news item alleging that the Northern Command chief Lt. Gen. DS Hooda had admitted that it was an Indian drone (while this was contested by many other reports).

Nothing of this orchestrated reaction from Pakistan is surprising. Expect a few more claims and counterclaims from both sides over the next few days. More importantly, this incident gives a glimpse of the role of drones in the India—Pakistan conflict in the years to come.

Drones are not new to Pakistan. The US has been conducting drone strikes since 2004. This continues till date, albeit with one massive difference: the change of narrative regarding drones in Pakistan.

Before 16th December 2014, usage of drones was castigated in Pakistani popular opinion. There was a huge build-up of public resentment against the ‘flying robots’ who killed terrorists and innocents alike. However, this perception started changing post the gruesome attack on the Army school in Peshawar. That incident softened the public opinion against drones — giving legitimacy to all actions that could be used against the enemies of the Pakistani state. In fact, just three days after the attack, the Pakistani army spoke about employing drones to kill TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah.

With this change in narrative, Pakistan has found it easier to talk about drones. With the US drones operating in the country for over a decade, the Pakistan army has had a sufficient exposure to this technology. And with Chinese help forthcoming in ways more than one, Pakistan tested its laser-guided missile mounted drone Burraq in March 2015.

It is possible that the Pakistani drone technology (indigenous or otherwise, surveillance or armed) is ahead of that of India’s. This means that the Indian defences will have to quickly ramp their efforts in anti-drone capabilities. While India has focused on procuring drones, there is little work done on fighting drones coming from the adversary.

Traditional techniques like using Surface to Air missiles might prove to be monetarily costly against drones. As a result, in the US, anti-drone technologies took off with communication and radar jamming techniques that decapitate the control mechanism of drones. Other technologies like using drones against other drones are still in the works. Given the nascent nature of this technology, India would do well to acquire anti-drone defence expertise from its partners like Israel or US in the short term.

The role of drones in the future of conflict will be significant, particularly in the India—Pakistan simmering conflict because drones are perceived low on the belligerence scale and have the added benefit of an increasing plausible deniability if things go wrong. Keeping this in mind, India needs to up its anti-drone game.

Pranay Kotasthane is a Research Fellow at The Takshashila Institution. He is on twitter @pranaykotas

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Playing the Mullah Omar card

How is Mullah Omar’s reappearance (or the absence of it) likely to affect India?

by Pranay Kotasthane (@pranaykotas)

After the conclusion of the first official round of talks between the Taliban and Afghan unity government in the Pakistani resort town of Murree, Pakistan was desperately looking for a pat on the back. Pakistan’s wish was fulfilled, almost incredibly, when a message on the Taliban’s website, believed to be from Mullah Mohammed Omar, endorsed the peace talks process.

This message shifted the world’s attention to the enigma that is Mullah Omar. He’s not been seen since 2001 but recordings of his video messages, and his written statements make periodical appearances on the Taliban website. In fact, even the latest comment regarding the talks was made in a message that appears every Eid-ul-Fitr.

His previous online projection was in the form of a 5,000 word biography which appeared in April this year. Coinciding with the rise of Daesh, the purpose of this exercise was to emphasise that Mullah Omar is still the Amir-ul-Momineen, the unquestioned leader of the Taliban. Ahmed Rashid, who has written extensively on the Af-Pak region called this essay a ‘healing device for the reported divisions within the Taliban’ and an essay which ‘reasserts Mr Omar’s leadership and commands all Taliban to unite and obey him’. He goes on to say that the ‘essay suits the ISI and the moderate wing of the Taliban, which are keen to get peace talks started. To do that the agency needs to demonstrate that Mr Omar is alive and in command.’

Why should these unsubstantiated news reports be of concern? Because Mullah Omar’s presence can still rally the various Taliban factions together. The Taliban is no longer a monolith and has various streams of thoughts, each having a different plan of action. In such a scenario, the side that wins Omar’s support will have narrative dominance.

From an Indian perspective, Mullah Omar’s return, if that ever happens, will reassert ISI’s leadership in the talks. This is because Omar couldn’t have survived without the agency’s involvement. As a precedent, In what can be seen as a precedent, Taliban’s second-in-command Abdul Baradar was found in a comatose state after his individual overtures to the Karzai administration. The possibility that Omar will meet the same fate cannot be overruled.

There are two evidences supporting this hypothesis. One, the biography hailing him appeared to be an effort by Pakistan to ramp up pressure on the Taliban to engage with Kabul under Pakistan’s leadership. After prevailing on Akhtar Mansour to agree to talks, Pakistan was indicating that Mullah Omar continues to be relevant. Two, in the “endorsement” message for Murree talks, there is an explicit mention of how Taliban is not an agent of Pakistan. The fact that Taliban needed to clarify this message suggests something otherwise.

On the other hand, Mullah Omar’s physical absence is resulting in diminishing returns to the Taliban movement. Elements in the group are losing hope of his coming back. If the news of his death comes out, it would accelerate the pace of the divisions within Taliban. In such a case, it might be in India’s interests to open channels with at least a few factions which are not directly opposed to India.

The next round of talks is believed to be taking place on July 30th. Peace will remain elusive in the absence of agreement over Taliban’s core demands of a Sharia state, and US forces’ complete removal. Nevertheless, these talks will give interesting insights into the internal dynamics of Taliban.

Pranay Kotasthane is a Research Fellow at The Takshashila Institution. He is on twitter @pranaykotas

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Three parameters for evaluating global governments

What are the parameters that can help us judge the effectiveness of supra-national political unions?

by Pranay Kotasthane (@pranaykotas)

For about a decade now, geopolitical analysts have been discussing about the emergence of a new world order. The formation (and mere formulation) of new supra-state constructs such as G-20, BRICS, SCO are an evidence for these expectations that demand a shuffle in the world order.

The call for new international institutions is exacerbated by the ineffectiveness of the dominant international governments of the day — the United Nations (UN), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB). The fundamental reason for their ineffectiveness is the divergence between the power distribution inside these institutions and the power distribution in the world at large.

Consequently, any new formation that tries to compete with the existing system will have to prove its relative superiority over the existing system. But how does one measure this? Are there any parameters that can help us evaluate the effectiveness of supra-national political unions?

Hans Morgenthau’s classic work on political realism ‘Politics of nations’ offers us some interesting answers to these questions:

With regard to each of the attempts at international governments, three questions must be asked:
1. Where is the authority to govern vested, or who is to govern?
2. By what principle of justice is the government to be guided, or what is the conception of the common good to be realised by the government, and
3. To what extent has the government been able to maintain order and peace.

World Order

Image courtesy: username: wiertz, flickr. Creative commons.

Taking these parameters as a reference point, we can observe the following about today’s world order:

Parameter 1. Authority to govern has traditionally been vested in victors of major wars. For example, victors of World War 1 took the lead in forming the League of Nations. Similarly, the current system with the UN at its apex is a direct outcome of the World War 2. The writ of the UN is effectively the writ of the UN Security Council which has the allied powers as its permanent members. The UN General Assembly on the other hand, by design has very limited role in geopolitics.

However, we are now in a world where nuclear deterrence has made wars of a global scale less likely. This means that any new organisation seeking to challenge the current system must derive its authority from a source other than war invincibility. Given that we have had several global economic depressions, and no world wars, this source of authority can well be the economic prowess of a supra state. Global governments of the new age must possess collective a economic might that can tide over the world’s tougher problems.

Moreover, authority is a function of both, power and legitimacy. While economic power is a result of several other factors, legitimacy can be enhanced by effective response in times of crisis.  For example, the initial promises made by the G-20 group following the 2008 recession made the world take notice of this organisation.

Parameter 2. The system of justice to be realised by an international government is a resultant of the justice systems of the constituent great powers. Previous experiences of international governments show that the system of justice has come to mean two things. One, to maintain the political status quo achieved as a result of the war and two, to deal a debilitating blow to the defeated.

Based on the assumption that the emerging world order will be determined primarily in the economic domain, the corresponding justice system will lay emphasis on areas such as trade and monetary flows, investments in infrastructure and so on. Seen from this perspective, it doesn’t come as a surprise that all international formations are trying to build an economic system of their own. Thus, we have China investing in Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and One Belt One Road (OBOR), while the BRICS are attempting a New Development Bank (NDB) of their own.

Parameter 3. While averting major wars, the UN system has been found wanting in countering terrorism and mass atrocity crimes. Norms such as Responsibility to Protect (R2P) have been applied selectively at best, taking up issues of direct concern to the great powers while ignoring issues which are out of their collective conscience. As a result, we see instances of human rights violations from Balochistan to Yemen, receiving nothing but wholesale ignorance.

In this regard, the new world order will have to perform better on countering terrorism and mass atrocities. Going ahead, maintaining order and peace will not be as much about preventing conventional wars but about responding to asymmetric violence.

Having observed the parameters from the contemporary perspective, one might ask, what should be the ideal size of an effective international government? Clearly, the current number (5) is too small, and having all countries (>200) on board will only slow down the response.

Morgenthau offers a solution for that question as well:

An international organisation cannot be so universal that all members are in it but it should be universal in that all nations likely to disturb the peace are under its jurisdiction.

Pranay Kotasthane is a Research Fellow at The Takshashila Institution. He is on twitter @pranaykotas

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The welfare state: an alibi or a mafia lord?

The welfare function of modern states has a disproportionate effect on the way citizens perceive the state.

by Pranay Kotasthane (@pranaykotas)

Economist Bryan Caplan in his latest EconLog post explains how the welfare function of a state melts the conscience of its citizens. His contention is that human beings tend to lose objectivity when they witness a highly emotional act such as philanthropy. This applies even to individuals who are merely observers, and not just those who are recipients of the philanthropic act. This loss of objectivity means that individuals are likely to forget or obfuscate the previous acts of wrong-doings by the benevolent actor.


How does this relate to the state and its citizens? The author claims that one such apparently benevolent actor is the welfare state itself. A government of a welfare state may display acts of philanthropy towards its citizens, fully aware of the cognitive bias of its citizens, which tends to give a higher weightage to acts of philanthropy. The agents of the welfare state may then use this illusion to commit acts of corruption and impropriety.


The author says that welfare states..

melt people’s consciences, leading them to excuse and minimise the most horrible of crimes.


Caplan further suggests:

when organisations that kill people for a living – like crime families or governments – loudly help the needy, we should indeed shudder.  Why?  Because their perceived philanthropy makes it easy for them to get away with murder.  Maybe they’ll use their power over life and death wisely and fairly.  But they probably won’t – especially if they’re surrounded by devoted fans eager to excuse their shortcomings.


Beyond this libertarian argument, there are two other observations to be made about this relationship between a welfare state and its citizen.
First, a welfare state can end up becoming a perfect alibi for the selfish citizen. A marginal citizen is likely to refuse taking up acts of compassion, empathy or philanthropy. This is because he/she considers that the execution of these functions are the raison d’être of a welfare state. Why should then he/she take the initiative of helping others out? Such a citizen is likely to claim that his/her contribution to taxes is by itself his/her generous contribution to the society. The result of this dereliction of duty is that a welfare state has few competing philanthropic agents. The lack of competition reinforces the bias which makes us ignore its crimes. Acts of wrongdoings by governments then become fait accompli — almost as a collective cost that the society necessarily needs to incur in order to  ensure that the state performs its welfare role.


Two, citizens need to keep a constant vigil on a government that grandstands its welfare role. A citizen needs to be sceptical of governmental actions, ensuring that governments do not easily get away with some other not so charitable acts. The good news is that in republics such as the Indian state, even the government is subject to the authority of the constitution. The constitution then becomes the reference point that citizens should evaluate all government acts with, on every single occasion, regardless of its importance as an agent of welfare. Citizens of some other states are not as lucky: often the reference point is itself subservient to the government or to a party.
Pranay Kotasthane is a Research Fellow at The Takshashila Institution. He is on twitter @pranaykotas
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“नोतुन प्रजन्मो — नई दिशा” : भारतीय विदेश नीति के बदलते समीकरण

बांग्लादेश दौरे से कुछ ऐसे समीकरण सामने आ रहे हैं जो भारतीय विदेश नीति के प्रभाव का परिचायक बनेंगे

by Pranay Kotasthane (@pranaykotas) and Pradip Bhandari

जून ७ को भारत और बांग्लादेश ने “नोतुन प्रजन्मो — नई दिशा” नामक संयुक्त घोषणापत्र से अपने द्विपक्षीय संबंधों को एक नया आयाम दिया। प्रधानमंत्री की इस यात्रा में भूमि सीमा समझौते पर मोहर लग गई। समुद्रीय सीमा के पारस्परिक समाधान के उपरांत यह भूमि सीमा समझौता दोनों देशों के रिश्तों में दूसरी लगातार सफलता हैं।

इन दो बाधाओं के हटने से दोनों देश अपनी प्रमुख मांगों को एक दुसरे के सामने बेजिझक रूप से रखने में सफल रहे । जहाँ भारत ने बांग्लादेश से अपने पूर्वोत्तर राज्यों के बांग्लादेश से अभिगम (access) की मांग में सीमित सफलता पाई, बांग्लादेश ने तीस्ता मसले को जल्द निपटाने की बात उठाई।

हालांकि इन मामलों का पूर्ण समाधान अभी दूर है, इन नुकिलें विषयों पर खुलकर बातचीत ही अपनेआप में एक मील का पत्थर है । इन दोनों विषयों पर प्रगति ही भारत-बांग्लादेश द्विपक्षीय साझेदारी को निर्धारित करेगी । साथ ही, इस दौरे से कुछ ऐसे समीकरण सामने आ रहे हैं जो भारतीय विदेश नीति के प्रभाव का परिचायक बनेंगे। आइए, इन समीकरणों पर ध्यान केंद्रित करें।

सर्वप्रथम, यह स्पष्ट हो चुका है कि भारत अपनी विदेश नीति में दोस्ताना पड़ोसी राष्ट्रों को प्राथमिकता देगा । इससे पहले भारत की विदेश नीति प्राथमिकता थी पाकिस्तान के साथ सर्व विवादों पर शांतिपूर्ण समझौता। इस प्राथमिकता के चलते दुसरे पड़ोसियों से रिश्ते और सुदृढ़ करना मुश्किल हो गया था क्यूंकि हमारा ध्यान पाकिस्तान पर केंद्रित था । सार्क (SAARC) जैसे बहुराष्ट्रीय मंच भी पाकिस्तान की कटुता के चलते प्रभावहीन हो गए। लेकिन अब, इस सरकार ने साफ़ कर दिया हैँ कि पाकिस्तान को उतना ही महत्व दिया जाएगा जितना वह उसका हकदार है। रक्षा मंत्री के पाकिस्तान के ख़िलाफ़ आतंकवाद पर वक्तव्य के अलावा, सरकार की पाकिस्तान नीति अब तक भारतीय राष्ट्रहित के लिए सकारात्मक रही है।

दूसरा, इस दौरे की सफलता से यह निष्कर्ष निकलता है कि भारत को पड़ोसी राष्ट्रों के दोस्ताना राजनायकों को प्रोत्साहन देना चाहिए। फिर चाहे वह मालदीव हो, बांग्लादेश हो  या श्रीलंका, अगर कोई राजनेता भारत-समर्थक है, तो भारत को खुलकर दोस्ती का हाथ बढ़ाना चाहिए। अगर ऐसे राजनेताओं की शुभकामनाओं के लिए हमे कुछ अतिरिक्त जतन करने पड़े, तो करने चाहिए।  इस तरह भारत एक सशक्त संकेत प्रसारित करेगा कि जो नेता भारत के शुभ चिंतक हैं, उन्हें भारत मुश्किल क्षणों में भी सहायता करने का सामर्थ्य रखता हैं ।

तीसरा समीकरण है भारतीय राज्यों की विदेश नीति मैं बढ़ती भागीदारी। भूमि सीमा समझौते पर हस्ताक्षर के वक्त पश्चिम बंगाल की मुख्यमंत्री की मौजुदगी विदेश नीति मैं राज्यों की बढ़ती साझेदारी की तरफ संकेत करती है। यह इस बात का प्रमाण है कि केंद्र सरकार को यह अहसास हो चुका है कि ‘पड़ोसी पहले’ की नीति तभी सफल हो सकती है जब सीमा स्थित राज्यों को भी भागीदार बनाया जाए। साथ ही यह सरकार की ‘कॉपरेटिव फेडेरलिस्म’ की नीति के साथ भी समन्वय रखता है।

चौथा समीकरण है यह एहसास कि पड़ोसियों से बातचीत में सार्क जैसे बहुपक्षीय मंच की बजाय अलग-अलग द्विपक्षीय साझेदारियां बेहतर काम करती हैं । सार्क में पाकिस्तान की उपस्थिति से आसान कार्य भी पेचीदा हो जाते हैं । और ऐसी कोई भी भारतीय मांग नहीं हैं जो केवल सार्क मंच पर की जा सकती है, द्विपक्षीय स्तर पर नहीं । अतः सार्क में अपनी शक्ति ज़ाया करने से अच्छा है कि भारत आत्मविश्वास से द्विपक्षीय साझेदारियों का एक सशक्त नेटवर्क स्थापित करें।  

“नोतुन प्रजन्मो — नई दिशा” अर्थात “नयी पीढ़ी—नयी दिशा” का नारा क्या भारत विदेश नीति का भी परिचायक होगा?

यह तो उपर्लिखित चार समीकरण निर्धारित करेंगे। फिलहाल, हमें इस बात पर ध्यान देना है कि यह समीकरण स्वतः भारतीय गणतंत्र की घरेलु सफलता पर आधारित हैं। इस सफ़लता के लिए हमें आर्थिक स्तर पर वृद्धि और सामाजिक स्तर  पर सद्भावना की दिशा में ठोस कदम उठाने होंगे ।

Pranay Kotasthane is a Research Fellow at The Takshashila Institution. He is on twitter @pranaykotasPradip Bhandari is a student of the GCPP3 batch. He is the Coordinator, Youth Forum of Thalassemia & Child Welfare Group, in Indore.

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व्यवहाराची किंमत

Guest post by Ashlesha Gore

मागील भागात आपण गमावलेल्या संधीची किंमत म्हणजे काय हे पाहिले.आता एका अशा किंमतीबद्दल आपण जाणून घेऊया जिच्याशी आपला रोजचा संबंध येऊनही आपण तिकडे दुर्लक्ष करतो.

समजा तुम्हाला एक टीव्ही सेट खरेदी करायचा आहे. तुमच्या जवळच्या दुकानात त्याची किंमत १०,०००/- रुपये आहे पण पेपरमध्ये एका सुपरस्टोरची १०% सवलतीच्या योजनेची जाहिरात आलेली आहे. ते ठिकाण तुमच्या घरापासून साधारण १० किमी लांब आहे. आता ह्यापैकी कोणता व्यवहार अधिक फायद्याचा ठरेल हा विचार तुम्ही करू लागता. फक्त दोन दुकानांमधल्या टीव्हीच्या किंमतीचा विचार केला तर सुपरस्टोर नक्कीच अधिक चांगला पर्याय आहे.

नीट विचार केल्यावर मात्र लक्षात येईल की हा प्रश्न वाटतो तितका सोपा नाही. १० किमी दूर असलेल्या सुपरस्टोरला कारने जाण्यासाठी आणि तिथे गेल्यावर पार्किंगसाठी लागणारा खर्च विचारात घ्यावा लागेल. तसेच तिथे जाण्यायेण्यासाठी लागणारा वेळ विचारात घेऊन त्याची opportunity cost लक्षात घेतली तर कदाचित जवळच्या दुकानातून टीव्ही घेणे जास्त फायद्याचे ठरेल. ह्या उदाहरणावरून आपल्या असे लक्षात येते की कोणत्याही खरेदीची एकूण किंमत ठरवायची असेल तर त्याचे दोन भाग विचारात घ्यावे लागतील. एक – खरेदी केलेल्या वस्तूची किंमत आणि दोन – ही खरेदी करताना जी काही कृती करावी लागते त्याचा खर्च. ह्या दुसऱ्या भागालाच “व्यवहाराची किंमत” (transaction cost) असे म्हणतात.

कोणत्याही व्यवहाराचे तीन घटक असू शकतात:

१. हवी असलेली वस्तू बाजारात शोधणे – खरेदी करतानाची ही पहिली पायरी. हवी असलेली वस्तू आपल्या मनासारखी आणि ऐपतीत बसणारी हवी. ती तशी देऊ शकणाऱ्या दुकानाचा शोध घेणे हे ग्राहकाचे पहिले काम. इंटरनेटचा जमाना यायच्या आधी लोक वस्तूच्या किंमतीचा अंदाज घेण्यासाठी वेगवेगळ्या दुकानांमध्ये चकरा मारीत. तसेच योग्य गिऱ्हाईक मिळविण्यासाठी दुकानदारांना देखील पोस्टर, जाहिरात इत्यादीवर खर्च करावा लागत असे. अशाप्रकारे वस्तू आणि गिऱ्हाईक शोधण्याच्या कामात होणारा खर्च कोणत्याही व्यवहाराच्या किंमतीचा महत्त्वाचा भाग आहे.

२. घासाघीस करणे – वाटाघाटी करताना खर्च होणाऱ्या गोष्टीदेखील व्यवहाराच्या किंमतीत धराव्या लागतात. जर घासाघीस करणे त्रासदायक होत असेल तर ही किंमत इतकी वाढते की व्यवहार होणेच कठीण होऊन बसते. उदाहरणार्थ – काही रिक्षावाले मीटरप्रमाणे न जाता प्रत्येक ग्राहकाशी घासाघीस करीत बसतात. ही गोष्ट अनेक प्रवाशांना दिवसेंदिवस त्रासदायक वाटू लागते आणि त्यांच्यासाठी ह्या व्यवहाराची किंमत खूपच वाढते. त्यामुळे अनेक लोक रिक्षाने प्रवास न करता सरळ जास्त पैसे देऊन कॅबने जातात. म्हणजेच जेवढी जास्त घासाघीस तेवढी त्या व्यवहाराची किंमतही जास्त.

३. व्यवहार करताना ठरलेल्या अटी पाळणे – व्यवहार करताना ज्या अटी ठरलेल्या आहेत त्या पाळल्या जाणे हा त्या व्यवहाराचा एक महत्त्वाचा भाग आहे. जर त्या अटी पाळण्यासाठी मोजावी लागणारी किंमत जास्त असेल तर तो व्यवहार होऊ शकत नाही. उदाहरणार्थ – तुम्ही नवीन घेतलेल्या कपड्यांचा रंग पहिल्याच धुण्यात उतरला तर साहजिकच आपले नुकसान ताबडतोब भरून निघावे अशी तुमची अपेक्षा असेल. मात्र विकणाऱ्याने नुकसान भरून देण्यास खळखळ केली तर व्यवहार महागात जातो. म्हणून नेहेमी warranty चा उपयोग केला जातो. व्यवहार करतानाची किंमत कमीत कमी असेल हे ग्राहकाला पटवून देण्यासाठी warranty असते.

आता तुमच्या लक्षात येईल की इंटरनेटमुळे व्यवहाराची किंमत कशी कमी झाली आहे आणि हेच ऑनलाईन खरेदीच्या यशाचे गमक आहे.

व्यवहाराची किंमत आणि सरकारी धोरणे यांचा काय संबंध ?

कोणत्याही आर्थिक प्रक्रियेबरोबर transaction cost चा बोजा येतोच. खरेदी करणारा आणि विकणारा दोघांनाही ही किंमत चुकवावी लागते. व्यवहाराची किंमत जेवढी जास्त असते तेवढी ती व्यवहार करण्यासाठी मारक ठरते. ती खूप जास्त वाढली की आर्थिक विकासात अडथळा येतो.

उदाहरणार्थ सार्वजनिक वितरण प्रणाली (public distribution system) बघूया. अनेकवेळा ह्या योजनेचा फायदा गरीब माणसाला मिळतच नाही. ह्याचे कारण भ्रष्टाचार नसून खूप जास्त असलेली व्यवहाराची किंमत हे आहे. लांबवरून PDS च्या दुकानापर्यंत येण्याचा खर्च, अर्धा-एक दिवस रांगेत घालवल्यामुळे तेवढ्या वेळाच्या गमावलेल्या पगाराची किंमत आणि गुणवत्तेची खात्री नसल्याने त्यासाठी द्यावी लागू शकेल अशी सर्वात मोठी किंमत ह्या सगळ्याचा विचार करता बहुतेक लोक खुल्या बाजारातून वस्तू विकत घेणेच इष्ट समजतात.

म्हणून ज्या धोरणामध्ये खरेदी करणाऱ्यास आणि विकणाऱ्यास कमीत कमी व्यवहाराची किंमत द्यावी लागते तेच धोरण उत्तम म्हणता येईल.

Ashlesha Gore handles her family retail cloth store in Pune. She is interested in languages and blogs at ashuwaach.blogspot.in andsanskritsubhashite.blogspot.in in Marathi and Marathi-Sanskrit

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One year of NDA government’s foreign policy: What changed and what didn’t?

By Pranay Kotasthane (@pranaykotas)

These are the comments that Pranay wrote for Emerging Kerala, a Malayalam monthly magazine on Kerala’s business, economy and society in the backdrop of the first anniversary of NDA rule.

Q: As Narendra Modi government is completing one year in this May, what do you think the achievements of the country in diplomatic relations with other countries? How Narendra Modi’s foreign visits have benefitted our economy?

The astute selection of countries for engagements is the first significant achievement. Looking beyond the sub-continent and giving a much-needed push to the relations with countries like Japan, Australia, Vietnam and US was long overdue.

It is also important to realise that foreign policy successes aren’t outcomes of foreign visits alone. Foreign policy successes need domestic consensus building as well. On that count, resolving the long-standing land border issue with Bangladesh through the constitutional process constitutes the second diplomatic success. This will allow India to focus on more substantive issues like getting transit access to the Northeast Indian states through Bangladesh.

Third, the operationalisation of the civil nuclear deal with the US is another achievement, removing a roadblock in the partnership between the two countries.

It is good for the Prime Minister to invest time in international engagements: India’s growth is influenced by the world and the world’s situation in turn affects India’s growth. So, foreign engagements are key to the Indian economy.

The benefits of foreign policy initiatives on the economy are delayed by their inherent nature. So, its effects, whether in terms of giving a boost to ‘Make in India’ or in terms of energy security, will take some time. However, a good foreign policy is just solving one part of the puzzle for giving a boost to the economy. The second part demands that the government put the right policies in place domestically like making the Indian setup more market-friendly.

Q: Has India got an image makeover globally? Is India becoming an influential global force?

Yes, to the extent that Mr. Modi’s revitalisation of India’s foreign policy has re-established India as a significant player in international affairs. Mr. Modi has raised expectations across the region. India’s position is key to the Asian balance of power and this government has conveyed the right signals to other important players in the region.

On the other hand, global influence is itself an outcome of national power. And one of the most important factors for national power is consistent economic growth. The other countries look up to India only because they believe that its growth will be of benefit to them as well. So, economic growth will be the key to national power and in turn to a greater influence in the world.

Q: There are criticisms about the huge expense of Modi’s foreign visits. How do you look at this?

Foreign visits by important ministers of state are not junkets. There is a great tendency to view such trips with the lens of “onsite” opportunities.

We have to go beyond the mindset of a “poor” India that cannot be an important player in the international arena. To that effect, these trips are very important, both as a signal to the world, and in terms of concrete partnerships with key nation-states. Overall, India’s policy discourse will benefit from the PMs international engagements and exposure.

Given the huge positive externalities of the PM’s visit to other countries, I definitely do not subscribe to the view that the expenses are worthless.

Q: What do you think the most significant step that Modi has taken in the foreign policy?

The most significant step has been to signal to the world that India wants to proactively engage with every country.

The buzz around the world is that India now has a government that can get its act right and resolve internal issues while engaging externally.

Q: What are the major differences in the foreign policy of Narendra Modi government and former UPA government?

The biggest success during the UPA tenure was the US-India 123 agreement which, by no means was a small achievement. It put the India-US partnership on the right track after several years of sluggishness.

Beyond that success, a large amount of time, and political capital were wasted on international groupings that had little relevance to India’s foreign policy priorities. On the sidelines of one such conference, the PM even committed a big blunder of signing a joint statement with the PM of Pakistan that effectively agreed to India’s role in Balochistan.

In general, there was a lot of focus on getting our relationship with Pakistan right, which was a wishful thinking given that Pakistan was, and is still in control of the Military Jihadi complex (MJC) which sees no benefit in good relations with India. As a result, we missed the boat on engaging with other countries instead.

What we now see is that the new government is more proactive in its foreign policy. Modi’s focus on foreign policy has taken everyone by surprise. This means that foreign countries are taking that one extra step as well.

Secondly, there is a lot more visible focus on engaging with countries beyond the Indian jambudweepa, thereby establishing India not only as a regional leader, but also a global powerhouse.

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Pranay Kotasthane is a Research Fellow at The Takshashila Institution. He is on twitter @pranaykotas

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The changing contours of India—Israel relations

We can deftly steer the technical co-operation between the two countries into a substantial partnership

By Pranay Kotasthane (@pranaykotas)

This is the gist of the points made by Pranay in a panel discussion on CNBC Awaaz at 6:00pm IST on 5th June. This was in the context of the upcoming visit by Narendra Modi to Israel — the first ever by an Indian Prime Minister.

Q: From a foreign policy angle, how to you view the upcoming visit of Narendra Modi, the first ever by an Indian PM, to Israel?

In the years immediately following India’s independence and Israel’s formation, the India-Israel relationship was completely subservient to India’s relations vis-a-vis the other West Asian countries. Consequently, India recognised Israel in 1950 and yet deferred the establishment of diplomatic ties until 1992.

This policy changed in 1992 for a multitude of reasons, chief among them being Israel’s role as a supplier of arms in the wake of a weakening USSR, and its role as a conduit for economic and trade opportunities with the US. Thereafter, the India-Israel relationship has taken the shape of a technical co-operation rather than a strategic partnership.

This visit, the first by an Indian Prime Minister to Israel, provides an opportunity to go beyond the realms of technical co-operation, and deepen the engagement between the two countries.

Q: Is it necessary for India to still play a balancing act between Israel and other West Asian countries or can it go all out without worrying about the reactions of the other West Asian countries?

It is important for India to diversify relations with its foreign policy partners, and in this case it means going beyond the co-operation in defence and agriculture. But this does not mean that India can ignore the other West Asian countries. While India has consistently voted for the people of Palestine at forums like the UN, it has also managed to consolidate its relationship with Israel. Such a balancing act is likely to continue.

Moreover, there is another interesting dimension to this relationship. Government of India preferred not to go ballistic with its Israel partnership. But this only meant that several Indian States took the lead in engaging with Israel, beyond the glare of the national media. The period after 1992 has seen several visits by Indian CMs to Israel. On one such occasion in 1996, Maharashtra Diwas in Israel was celebrated in the presence of the then Maharashtra CM (There is a community of Bene Israelis who immigrated to Israel from India’s west coast). Going ahead, this direct partnership between Indian states and Israel is likely to continue as Indian states will become important players, even in matters of India’s foreign policy.

Pranay Kotasthane is a Research Fellow at The Takshashila Institution. He is on twitter @pranaykotas

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गमावलेल्या संधीची किंमत

Guest post by Ashlesha Gore

काहीतरी मिळवायचे असेल तर काहीतरी गमवावे लागते असे म्हणतात. हेच वाक्य अर्थशास्त्रामध्ये देखील लागू पडते. कसे ते बघूया:

आधीच्या लेखात म्हटल्याप्रमाणे कमतरतेचा मुकाबला करण्यासाठीचा एक उपाय म्हणजे प्राधान्यक्रम ठरविणे. म्हणजेच आपली परिस्थिती आणि गरज ह्यांना अनुसरून घेतलेला निर्णय. हा निर्णय आपल्या वैयक्तिक आवडीनिवडीशी निगडीत असतो. अशा पद्धतीने घेतलेल्या निर्णयालाच इंग्रजीमध्ये ट्रेड-ऑफ असे म्हणतात. जेव्हा आपल्याकडील मर्यादित साधनाच्या बदल्यात आपण एखाद्या गोष्टीची निवड करतो तेव्हा कळत नकळत दुसऱ्या कोणत्यातरी गोष्टीचा त्याग करतो. उदाहरणार्थ एखाद्या पदवीधर तरुण किंवा तरुणीसाठी मर्यादित साधन आहे – वेळ. हा वेळ मूल्यवान पण मर्यादित असतो कारण ह्या टप्प्यात जबाबदाऱ्या कमी असतात मात्र कायमच त्या तशा कमी राहू शकत नाहीत. आता समजा ह्या व्यक्तीकडे आपला वेळ वापरण्याचे दोन पर्याय आहेत – एक म्हणजे पदवी मिळाल्यावर कोणत्यातरी चांगल्या ठिकाणी नोकरी करणे किंवा दुसरा म्हणजे पदव्युत्तर अभ्यासक्रम करणे.

कोणताही पर्याय निवडला तरी त्याची किंमत ही चुकवावीच लागते. ही किंमत फक्त पैशांच्या स्वरूपातच असेल असे नाही. जर पदव्युत्तर कोर्स करण्याचा पर्याय निवडला तर कॉलेजची फी, अर्ज करणे ह्यासाठी लागणारी पैशांच्या स्वरूपातील किंमत द्यावी लागतेच. पण ते तेवढ्यावर संपत नाही. हा पर्याय निवडल्यामुळे पूर्णवेळ पगार मिळविण्याची संधी तुम्ही पुढच्या काही वर्षांसाठी तरी सोडता. ही सोडलेली संधी देखील त्या एकूण किमतीचा एक भाग आहे. तसेच तुम्ही जर पूर्णवेळ नोकरी करण्याचा पर्याय निवडला तर नवीन शहरात स्थिरस्थावर होण्यासाठी लागणारी पैशांच्या स्वरूपातील किंमत तर देताच पण त्याचबरोबर तुम्ही मास्टर्स किंवा डॉक्टर ह्या पदवीवर पाणी सोडता. नोकरी करण्यासाठी द्याव्या लागलेल्या किंमतीचा हा एक महत्त्वाचा भाग आहे. आपल्याला सोडायला लागलेल्या संधीची किंमत दाखविणाऱ्या ह्या संकल्पनेला opportunity cost असे म्हणतात.

म्हणजे कोणत्याही ट्रेड-ऑफ ची एकूण आर्थिक किंमत काढायची असेल तर opportunity cost पण खालीलप्रमाणे विचारात घ्यावी लागेल –

एकूण, आर्थिक किंमत = पैशांच्या स्वरूपातील किंमत + गमावलेल्या संधीची किंमत (opportunity cost)

opportunity cost एखाद्या संख्येने अचूकपणे दाखवणे बरेचदा अवघड असते. पण म्हणून कोणत्याही ट्रेड-ऑफ चे विश्लेषण करताना ती सोडून देता येत नाही. ह्याचे कारण असे की एखादा पर्याय निवडल्यानंतर त्याला द्यावी लागणारी पैशांच्या स्वरूपातील किंमत कदाचित कमी असू शकेल पण गमावलेल्या संधीची किंमत खूप जास्त असल्याने एकूण आर्थिक किंमत कितीतरी पटीने वाढते.

सरकारच्या आर्थिक धोरणांचा अभ्यास करताना ह्या संकल्पनेची बरीच मदत होते. सरकारजवळ मर्यादित साधने आणि अनेक जबाबदाऱ्या असतात. त्यांच्या प्रत्येक धोरणाशी एक opportunity cost निगडीत आहे. म्हणून जेव्हा एखाद्या धोरणाचे विश्लेषण केले जाते तेव्हा त्यासाठी लागणारा खर्च आणि होणारा फायदा ह्याचाच फक्त विचार करून उपयोग नाही. तर हा पर्याय निवडून आपण कोणती संधी गमावली आहे याचा पण विचार होणे आवश्यक आहे. ज्या धोरणामध्ये पैशांच्या स्वरूपातील किंमत आणि  गमावलेल्या संधीची किंमत ह्या दोन्ही कमीतकमी असतील तेच धोरण सर्वात जास्त फायदेशीर आहे असे म्हणता येईल. म्हणून जेव्हा तुम्ही नरेगा, स्मार्ट सिटी किंवा सर्व शिक्षा अभियान यासारख्या धोरणांचा अभ्यास करीत असाल तेव्हा प्रथम “ह्या धोरणामुळे आपण काय मिळवलं आणि काय गमावलं ” ह्याचा जरूर विचार करा. त्यानंतरच हे धोरण यशस्वी झाले किंवा नाही याबद्दल तुम्ही तुमचे मत बनवू शकता.

Ashlesha Gore handles her family retail cloth store in Pune. She is interested in languages and blogs at ashuwaach.blogspot.in and sanskritsubhashite.blogspot.in in Marathi and Marathi-Sanskrit

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फायदा अठन्नी का और खर्चा एक रुपये का

कहानी विनिमय लागत (transaction cost) की 

— प्रखर मिश्रा (@prakharmisra) और प्रणय कोटस्थाने (@pranaykotas)

इस श्रृंखला के पिछले अध्याय में हमने अवसर लागत की संकल्पना को समझा । इस पोस्ट में हम एक और ऐसी लागत से परिचय करेंगे, जिससे हमारा पाला तो हर रोज़ पड़ता है पर हम उससे जुड़े कारण और अन्य पहलुओं को अक़्सर नज़रअंदाज़ कर देते हैं ।

मान लीजिये कि आपको एक १०,००० रुपये का टेलीविज़न ख़रीदना है। एक सुपरस्टोर (जो आपके निकटतम टेलीविज़न स्टोर से १० किलोमीटर दूर है) में १० प्रतिशत छुट का इश्तेहार आपको यह सोचने पर मजबूर कर देता है कि कौनसा सौदा अधिक फ़ायदेमंद है? अगर हम केवल दोनों दुकानो में टी.वी. की क़ीमत मात्र के आधार पर फ़ैसला करें तो सुपरस्टोर निस्संदेह बेहतर विकल्प हैं।

पर अगर हम इस समस्या को बारिकी से देखें तो जानेंगे कि  जवाब इतना आसान नहीं है । मसलन, आप इस १० किलोमीटर दूर सुपरस्टोर तक कार में पहुँचने की अतिरिक्त लागत जोडें । फिर सुपरमार्केट में कार पार्किंग की क़ीमत जोड़े। इस पूरे प्रकरण में अपने ज़ाया किये गए वक़्त की अवसर लागत जोड़े। जब आप इन लागतों की गणना करेंगे, तो पाएंगे कि अधिक फ़ायदे वाला विकल्प निकटतम स्टोर से संतुष्ट रहने में भी हो सकता है ।

इस उदहारण से हम यह समझते हैं कि किसी भी ख़रीदी की कुल लागत के दो हिस्से होते हैं । एक — ख़रीदी गयी वस्तु की क़ीमत और दो — वह लागत जो इस विनिमय को अंजाम देने की प्रक्रिया में खर्च होती है । इसी कुल लागत के दुसरे हिस्से को “विनिमय लागत” कहा जाता है ।

साथ हीकिसी भी विनिमय के तीन अंग हो सकते हैं —

१. शोधकार्य: विनिमय की पहली कड़ी है शोध। एक ख़रीददार को शोध होती है ऐसे बेचने वाले की, जो उसके बजट में उसे अपनी मनपसंद वस्तु बेच सके । उदाहरणार्थ, इंटरनेट की लोकप्रियता से पहले की बात है — लोग शॉपिंग के नाम पर दर-बदर दुकानों के चक्कर लगाते थे क़ीमत का अंदाज़ा लगाने के लिए । साथ ही दुकान वालों को ठीक खरीददार ढूंढने के लिए पोस्टर-पर्ची में पैसे लगाने पड़ते थे। इस शोध प्रक्रिया में ज़ाया हुए संसाधन विनिमय लागत का अहम हिस्सा है।

२. मोल-तोल प्रक्रिया: सौदेबाज़ी की प्रक्रिया में ज़ाया संसाधन भी विनिमय लागत का हिस्सा है । अगर मोल-तोल करना दुःखदायी हो तो विनिमय लागत इतनी बढ़ सकती है कि सौदा होता ही नहीं । उदहारण के लिए, कुछ ऑटो-रिक्शा चालक मीटर का उपयोग किये बिना हर ग्राहक से मोल-तोल का सौदा करने के इच्छुक होते हैं । यह प्रक्रिया हर दिन यात्रियों को मानसिक रूप से प्रताड़ित करती है, अर्थात उन्हें यह लागत बहुत अधिक लगती है । नतीजतन, कई लोग ऑटो न लेकर, अधिक रेट पर टैक्सी/कैब लेना पसंद करते हैं । अतः, जितना ज़्यादा मोल-तोल, उतनी ज़्यादा विनिमय लागत ।

३. नीति और लागू लागत: विनिमय का एक बड़ा हिस्सा है कि तय हुई शर्तों का पालन हो । अगर तय शर्तों को लागू करने की लागत बहुत अधिक हो, तो सौदा नहीं होता। उदहारण के लिए, अगर आपके द्वारा ख़रीदे हुए नए कपड़े पहली ही धुलाई में रंग छोड़ने लगें, तो आप चाहेंगे कि इस नुकसान का जल्द भरपाया हो । अगर बेचने वाला यह नुक़सान भरने से आनाकानी करें, तो यह सौदा महंगा हो जाता है । इसी वजह से अक़्सर वारंटी का उपयोग किया जाता है । वारंटी एक सिग्नल है ग्राहक के लिए कि इस विनिमय को लागू करने की लागत कम से कम होगी ।

नोट कीजिये किस तरह इंटरनेट से विनिमय लागत कम हुई है और आप जान जाएंगे कि ऑनलाइन शॉपिंग की सफ़लता का राज़ क्या है!

विनिमय लागत का पब्लिक पॉलिसी से क्या लेना देना?
विनिमय लागत किसी भी आर्थिक गतिविधि पर बोझ है । यह लागत बेचने वाले को भी अदा करनी पड़ती है और खर्च करने वाले को भी। उसे शुन्य भी नहीं किया जा सकता । जितनी ज़्यादा विनिमय लागत, उतना कम प्रोत्साहन एक आर्थिक गतिविधि के लिए । जब विनिमय लागत बहुत अधिक हो जाती है तो आर्थिक विकास में बाधा डालती है।

बाज़ार कई ग्राहकों और कई बेचने वालों को एक स्थान पर लाकर विनिमय लागत कम करते हैं|Image courtesy: McKay Savage, Flickr

बाज़ार कई ग्राहकों और कई बेचने वालों को एक स्थान पर लाकर विनिमय लागत कम करते हैं| Image courtesy: McKay Savage, Flickr

उदहारण ले सरकार की सार्वजनिक वितरण प्रणाली यानी Public Distribution System (PDS) का। कई बार इस प्रणाली के फायदों से ग़रीब भी वंचित रह जाता है । इसका कारण भ्रष्टाचार ही नहीं, बल्कि अत्यधिक विनिमय लागत का है। दूर-दराज़ से एक PDS दूकान आने का खर्चा, लाइनों में खड़ा रहकर एक-आधे दिन का वेतन गँवाने की अवसर लागत और गुणवत्ता लागू करने की बड़ी लागत को मद्देनज़र रख कर कई लोग खुले बाज़ार से ही अन्न ख़रीदना पसंद करते हैं ।

अतः, अच्छी पॉलिसी वह होती है जो विनिमय लागत को कम रख सके — बेचने वाले के लिए भी  भी और ख़रीदने वाले के लिए भी। ऐसा न करने पर फायदा होता है अठन्नी का और खर्चा होता है एक रुपये का

Prakhar Misra is a Fellow at the Swaniti Initiative and is a Takshashila GCPP alumnus. He is on twitter @prakharmisra

Pranay Kotasthane is a Research Fellow at The Takshashila Institution. He is on twitter @pranaykotas

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