The Big Story: Tighter embrace
India and the United States signed a military logistics agreement on Tuesday that sets the stage for much closer relations between the two large democracies. The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement will allow both the Indian and American armed forces access to designated military facilities for refueling and replenishment. Effectively it will make joint operations and humanitarian missions easier to conduct and allow the Americans to use some Indian facilities for refueling as they travel through the region. It does not allow for station of any US troops in India.
LEMOA took more than a decade to finally be signed, in part because it is very divisive. In the eyes of some experts, LEMOA is significant but shouldn't be controversial: It just makes logistics much easier. Others, however, see it as a gateway towards a tighter embrace with the United States and the end of India's stated policy of military neutrality. In particular, two other agreements are also on the anvil, the signing of which would mean India is a much more pronounced military ally of America's in the region.
When asked about these two after LEMOA was signed, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar acknowledged that enough has not been communicated about them. "After 12-13 years we have managed to get the logistics agreement in place. You could see the mistrust," he said. "The logistics agreement was being mistaken for the setting up of bases. So let me get this logistics agreement in the public domain properly; explain to the people; then we will definitely go into the other aspects."
That is essential. There has barely been any larger public debate about the question of a military alliance with the US, although policymakers in the sphere have had healthy, vocal discussions on the matter. Parrikar would do well to bring that debate to the larger public.
The Big Scroll: Scroll.in on the day's biggest story
How India is auditioning for the role of US sidekick, writes Girish Shahane.
- External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that the India and US agree that Pakistan needs to speed up its action against terror groups responsible for the Mumbai and Pathankot attacks.
- Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal's rally in Muktsar was interrupted by two Dalit women who questioned his claim of working for the scheduled caste community.
- In nearby Haryana, Animal Husbandry Minister Om Prakash Dhankar said the "character" of foreign bulls is the same as that of foreigners.
- Union Social Justice Minister Ramdas Athawale said on Tuesday that he would write to the Prime Minister calling for 25% reservation for the economically backward sections of upper caste groups.
- A leader in the Indian Express says the lesson of the LEMOA agreement signed between India and the US after more than a decade of negotiations is the need for public engagement.
- Niranjan Rajadhyaksha in Mint looks ahead to what the Reserve Bank India's approach to inflation targeting will be under new Governor Urjit Patel.
- If a Dalit-Muslim alliance is to be formed, the Muslim community has to be broken by caste just as its Hindu version has been, writes Faisal Devji in the Hindu.
Devjyot Ghosal reports from a village in Odisha that the government only began to pay attention to after 19 children had died.
Not only health workers, the Odisha government had also dispatched a group of anganwadi workers to Nagada. They, too, were on a three-day-long rotation. For the protection of the entire deputation, a police detachment had been sent up the hill. There was even a cook, with his own makeshift kitchen, tasked with ensuring that the 25 government personnel camping in Nagada were well fed.
“They’ve all started coming after the children died,” said Mangala Padhan, who lives barely 20 meters away from the camp. “No one came before that.”