Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Long Story

Last week, I finally submitted my paper to a journal for the first time. This paper was originally meant for TRB 2015 but, instead of putting it in the proceedings, my adviser convinced me to work more on it instead, which proved to be excellent advice because I was able to add some very important content to it. Now, the question is whether what I think is important is really important for the reviewers - and the only way to know that is to submit it!

The journal is pretty high-Impact Factor. I'm not a fan of the IF system and I have known many high IF journals that don't have much useful information in it (then again, usefulness is subjective). More problematically, it has led to journals insisting that authors cite works from that same journal in order to publish in it, which is simply wrong. Yet, in this perish-or-publish world of research, the IF remains a golden tool, albeit with some modifications that just give some statisticians a job to do. More importantly however, is the fact that many faculty recruitment boards specifically go into IF of journals that the candidate has published in and therefore, it is actually a matter of career. And, being a mere grad student, I really don't have the luxury of being able to pooh-pooh IF when my job depends on it. After tenure maybe, but not at this stage.

One thing I've learned from just the internal review is that any journals paper needs to meet very high standards, in terms of rigor and language. Conclusions must be based solely on results and not speculation, in contrast to conference papers, where some degree of speculation is acceptable to stoke interest in the participants. No wonder than that journal papers are harder to write, take longer to publish and involve multiple rounds of review, unlike conference papers.

At this stage, I thought I had put a ban on future conference papers (except TRB). But the truth is that when important organizations hold conferences, you need to respond to their calls, whether you like it or not. But then, really good, fundamental work, need not go there - simple summary works are fine, since nobody really follows anybody in research! Thus, even with three journal papers lined up to send out (with this one having been just the first), I already have two conference papers planned. Busy life ahead! 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Protect our Freedoms

Comedian Vir Das's show in New Delhi recently saw another glaring example of just how the police can legally harass the general public, as it was meant to do under the British-created Act that governs it today. There is no point is playing politics with this matter, because it is a fact that no party that has ever enjoyed any semblance of political power has made the police responsible to the people and not to their political masters, despite a Supreme Court order on the same.

In this instance, there are two issues. First is the fact that the police can harass anybody on the orders of the high and mighty. This is not what we won freedom from the British for, this is no different from the British colonialists who created terrorists in uniform. This is not the first time this has happened, but the power of social media has made it possible for us to know almost at the same time. Instead of defending civil liberties, the police trample on them.

And why not? After all, they are merely enforcing the law. Starting with the most shameful First Amendment, which virtually set the clock back on our hard-won freedoms, India now has a series of laws that are an insult to the very word democracy, laws that are harsher than those in some totalitarian states. While the Supreme Court struck down Sec. 66A of the IT Act, it did so only within the boundaries of the First Amendment, which remains the fountainhead of crimes against the people, sanctioned by the state, for expressing their opinions as human beings. Indeed, through such laws, the Republic has repeatedly trampled upon its people, hollowed it out from within.

The shameful case with Vir Das is not an exception, but the norm. Under the guise of legally upholding morality, the Republic has become hollow. Shame.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Is Delhi Next?

The continuing tragedy of the massive earthquake that hit Nepal on Saturday must re-focus our attention on the seismic dangers that arise out of the Indian subcontinent's tectonic history. As part of what became the African continent but drifted away and crashed into the Eurasian plate, the Australia-India plate remains highly seismically active, particularly along the Himalayan arc from Balochistan to Manipur and the zone around the Andaman and Nicobar islands. Moreover, the Himalayan arc has experienced what would be called a seismic gap - a long period of time during which no large earthquake took place despite increasing energy build-up. In that sense, the Nepal Earthquake is not entirely unexpected, but impossible to predict with any useful precision by modern standards.

What is even more concerning is the fact that the most powerful city in the region, the Indian federal capital New Delhi, also lies in a highly seismically active zone and is also going through a long seismic gap. Therefore, while a precise prediction is impossible, there is strong likelihood that New Delhi too will be hit. This puts in danger not just the denizens of the city-state, but also India's civilian and military leadership and any nuclear and non-nuclear defense systems there. At this point of time, New Delhi is protected by a missile defense shield similar to Israel's Iron Dome system, but a devastating earthquake would leave it vulnerable to nuclear strike from either China or Pakistan. Fortunately, there is an alternate security hierarchy in place somewhere safe, so the rest of the country will probably not fall into disarray.

As for civilian casualties in New Delhi, it will be grave. The city-state is home to over 19 million inhabitants, making it one of the most densely populated urban conglomerations in the world. This is further surrounded by the highly populous state of UP. The pressing danger in Delhi is in the unauthorized colonies that have been regularized by successive administrations, including the current one of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. While it might be politically convenient to do this, these unauthorized colonies do not subscribe to the strict building codes that are required to ensure seismically secure construction in the area. These colonies are home to over 5 million people and a powerful earthquake in the area would be devastating.

There is a need to retrofit these structures to at least protect some lives. This is possible through engineering but requires political will. The Chief Minister can continue with his stunts of distributing freebies and irrationally high dole to non-existent farmers, but the fact is that Delhi is on a ticking time bomb and his government should do something about it to save lives. However, the CM is presumably too busy with his dreams of becoming PM to care too much about any lives at all. 

Revelations on the Congress

Congress' crown prince Rahul Gandhi has returned to India from his mysterious sabbatical and his managers in the media, aided by a pliant and sold-out media, have done their best to show him as a new and renewed man, ready to revive his party and take on the mighty Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Thus, a damp squib of a rally made up largely of a paid crowd that had no idea what was going on was reported as a massive success; a very drab speech in Parliament that made very little sense was played up in the media as being messianic!

Some things are very clear. It is not just Sonia Gandhi any more, but Rahul Gandhi too who wants to become Prime Minister. All his trash talk about 'power is poison' is now in the dustbin of history for, having tasted sore defeat and the imminent destruction of the Deep Congress, he and his party have to fight back if, for nothing else, but to protect his dynasty. And for this mission, the Deep Congress (journalists, bureaucrats, so-called activists and intellectuals) have been enlisted as one last, great fight to stop the BJP from wiping out the Congress from the map.

The strategy is also very clear. The Congress has decided to turn far left while at the same time painting the BJP government as being pro-rich, an old and potent formula perfected by none other than Jawahar Lal Nehru himself. Both are lies - the Congress, if anything, is a den of corruption, crony capitalism and vested interests, while the BJP has sorely disappointed everyone on the right. In this process, the Deep Congress would have appreciated a better mascot than Rahul Gandhi, but obviously his mother is not going to let anyone dislodge him.

In addition, the Congress is aware that they have acquired, purely through their own votebank politics, an anti-Hindu image and, with massive pan-caste consolidation now possible through a leader such as Modi, this is an alarming development for the Congress. Thus, Rahul Gandhi's trek to Kedarnath was played up so well by the media. To be fair, he is trying very hard to follow the orders of the Deep Congress, although his serious lack of a mass base and oratory have him handicapped.

Some very interesting things are going to happen in the next few months. The only stumbling block for the Congress is the fact that the BJP enjoys an absolute majority of its own and cannot be displaced by any conventional means. Nonetheless, electoral politics is only one route to power - there are many more, and members of the Deep Congress know it very well. For the Modi-Shah duo, the need for constant vigilance has never been greater. We are now going back to undoing systems that were put in place at the very birth of the Republic, systems that have sustained and perpetuated the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty for decades. They are not going down without a fight - and a great one it will be.  

How did it come to this?

After all the fanfare and tough negotiations, the much-needed MMRCA contract - lately known as the Rafale deal - fell through. Prime Minister Narendra Modi officially put the negotiations on two tracks, but it seems unlikely that the negotiations will go on, because there is no incentive for Dassault to manufacture anything in India anymore. It is then worth wondering what went wrong in what was touted as a game-changing deal.

Much has been said about the pros and cons of resorting to an outright G2G sale instead of waiting for the negotiations. However, those analysts who fault the government for doing so have no reply to the IAF's desperate need for more squadrons. The mortal need to ensure that our armed forces remain well-equipped in the face of hostile neighbors takes precedence over all other considerations. Merely using this opportunity to score brownie points against the BJP is akin to treason!

More importantly, we must consider just how spectacularly our public sector companies - in this case, HAL and DRDO - have failed so miserably in their mission. At the same time, successive Defense Ministers have ignored the need to develop private-sector capabilities. These twin failures are the root cause of this sorry state of affairs. At this time, there is no point is paying a blame game - we are in a mess, that is for sure. The only way out is to swallow our pride and accept this G2G purchase and overhaul our military development.

If we don't, another 1962 will soon be on our cards. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Holding her own

Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani's recent interview to Arnab Goswami on Frankly Speaking was a watershed in her political career, wherein she came out on her own, with her own authority as a Union Minitser. For all those who believed her existence was on account of the RSS or Narendra Modi, she came back at her best and countered Arnab Goswami's questions with logic and facts.

There is no doubt that the Times group in particular, together with the general media, has had it against Irani since the day she was made HRD Minister. The biggest example of this was the manufactured controversy over the issue of German booting out Sanskrit in the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan in direct contravention of the decades-old three-language formula that has kept the country together. But there are many more, such as the innuendo that she created the FabIndia controversy to hog the limelight, an allegation that is an insult to every woman in the country.

But what came out remarkably in the interview is that Irani has not allowed these manufactured controversies to bog her down. Repeatedly, she asserted and proved through facts that she does not take instructions from anybody and does not believe that she is an extra-constitutional dictator that can impose her views on anything - from the ICHR to state Education ministries. Her work has been within the bounds of the Constitution and she made that point out clearly. Moreover, she demonstrated her expertise in handling partisan journalists (no doubt from her prior experience in the most partisan show of all, The Newshour) by early-on delineating the three standard premises that were behind all of Goswami's loaded questions to her:

  1. If you're an RSS, BJP or a right-wing individual, you have no right to a job. 
  2. If you're an RSS, BJP or a right-wing individual, you have no right to an opinion. 
  3. If you're an RSS, BJP or right-wing state government, you cannot take any decisions for yourself. 
All of Goswami's questions on policy were based on these three assumptions and she tried her best to critique these premises, as any other answer would have simply played into them. Thus, despite Goswami's repeated questioning, she continued to point out how her actions were strictly in the bounds of law, a law that has been followed more in the breach by her predecessors. 

Goswami should also go back to his fact-checking team, because they are doing a pretty shoddy job of it. Many of the policy-related questions, most glaringly the ones on transfers within her department, were off-the-mark. He largely chose to quote 'sources' from magazines and newspapers but never even went to official press releases to check those for himself. Basic journalism necessitates the need to check and verify facts (although Times Now does very little to none of that). That might not be very important in a shouting match like The Newshour, but in an interview it puts the anchor in very bad light. 

But perhaps the most telling part of the interview came out in the very end, when Irani spoke about her personal struggle so far. It is true that in today's politics, particularly in the Congress, it is impossible to survive without a lot of money and a godfather. Irani had neither - she grew up in a lower middle class family, mopped floors at McDonald's for a living before entering the very taxing world of television, where she became a household name by virtue of her good work. And now in politics, she went from being an ordinary political worker to the Union HRD Minister at just 38 years of age (she recently turned 39). Her story is the kind of tale, like that of PM Modi himself, that inspires young people in the country, a sort of inspiration that directly creates disgust for the Gandhi dynasty. 

It was once said that Smriti Irani is the next Sushma Swaraj in the BJP. Through this interview, she proved that wrong - she will climb much higher peaks. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The need to #StopHillaryNow

So it has finally happened. The great political earthquake of 2015 that, unlike real earthquakes, was predicted years ago, happened today, with former New York senator, US First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declaring her intention to run for a second time for US President and hoping to make history as the first female POTUS. Indeed, it is a bit of an anomaly that while all the great democracies of the world have have female heads of government, such as Mrs. Thatcher in Britain or Mrs. Gandhi in India, the US has never had a female President. This will certainly be a potent tool in her campaign, as it was in 2008 when she ran against incumbent President Barack Obama.

Her first campaign video made it abundantly clear what her strategy would be - to reach out to those groups that are traditionally seen as being hostile to the Republicans: women (yes, the entire bunch!), racial and sexual minorities. This is quite a no-brainer of course, with strident Republic opposition to abortion, gay marriage and equal voting rights in the south driving away those constituents, as was apparent in Obama's second landslide victory. It also made it clear that she sees no real challenge from the Democratic party - indeed, except possibly Elizabeth Warren, there probably isn't a single Democrat that can withstand the Clinton electoral machine.

And yet, she must be stopped. In 2008, Opinions 24x7 came out in support of Hillary, where she eventually lost to Obama in the primaries. Since then, she has proven in generous portions that she is everything from an incompetent administrator to an outright liar. Her foundation's shady dealings with foreign governments and non-governmental agencies were laid out to bear by Wikileaks. Her term as Secretary of State was a disaster that complimented the general Obama foreign policy, taking the wrong side in Libya and paying for it through the assassination of the US Ambassador to Benghazi while ignoring the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq until it was too late. With the sole exception of the assassination of Osama bin Laden, her term left America and the world in general much worse off.

And the recent controversy of her e-mails in the State Department will only come back to haunt her, as questions mount on why she deleted and tried to lie about 30,000 e-mails from her personal e-mail, which should have been archived and made available to the public under FOIA. She has tried to brush these issues under the carpet and the liberal media have given her a long rope, but that will not be enough once the actual campaign starts off. She must be held accountable for her failures, her double-dealings and her questionable actions. Emotional appeals to women and minorities cannot be allowed to bring someone so dangerous to power. Hillary Clinton must be stopped.  

Parikrama: The Great Imperial Expansion

With the annexation of Sri Lanka and the creation of administrative units following the defeat of the Rashrakutas in the Deccan, the Cholas consolidated their holdings. The greatest of the kings in the Middle Chola period was Rajaraja Chola I, an able administrator and military strategist who not only expanded the Empire to its greatest heights but also established administrative control over conquered areas, creating local governments who would report to the King. 

Rajaraja Chola I protected the Godavari districts of the Vengi, which formed the heart of his kingdom, while also ending the reign of the Western Ganga empire entirely and annexing large parts of the Kannda territory. By 996, all of the Chera terriority (modern Kerala) and norther Sri Lanka had been administratively integrated into him empire. In celebration of these great conquests, he commission the construction of the Brihadishvara temple, a massive monument that stands to day in Thanjavur as a shining example of Indian art, engineering and culture. By 1014, he further went on to annex the Maldives and the Lakshadweep islands, the latter remaining with India to this day. 

The Great Son
However, for all the celebrations of Rajaraja Chola I, his son outdid him in every respect. Rajendra Chola I can easily be described as the greatest Chola emperor in the entire history of the dynasty and indeed, one of the greatest military conquerors in India and Indo-China. In the south, he completed the annexation of Sri Lanka by imprisoning the Sinhala King Mahinda V, while in the north, his armies led a successful expedition to the kingdoms of the Ganga, one of the few instances when a southern dynasty conquered parts of northern India. In celebration of waters of the Ganga being made available to his kingdom, he constructed a new capital, Gangaikonda Cholapuram. He defeated the Palas and annexed parts of Bengal as well as Odisha, thus becoming one of the last Hindu emperors of 

But his victories were not limited to the Indian subcontinent. His army invaded the powerful Srivijaya Empire in the Malay peninsula, and he is mentioned in medieval Malay history as Raja Chulan. His successors Virarajendra Chola and Kulothunga Chola I further invaded and annexed parts of southern Thailand and Indonesia and introduced Hinduism there. This continues to have a large impact on the local culture there, despite the subsequent Islamic conquest in later centuries. For example, the national carrier of Indonesia is Garuda Airlines, named after the mythical eagle that tried to save Sita from being kidnapped by Ravan in the Ramayan. 

Local Resistance
But all was not smooth sailing for the Chola empire, despite all its successes. The Chalukyas, now in greatly diminished territory, tried to escape Chola influence through repeated military attacks, all but one of which led to absolute defeat, with just one instance of a successful but temporary occupation of the Vengi territory that used to be the heart of the Chola Empire under Rajaraja Chola I. Virarajendra Chola I successfully defeated the Chalukya King Somesvara II and formed and alliance with Prince Vikramaditya VI. It is telling that all but one of the battles between the Cholas and the Chalukyas was fought on Chalukya territory which, when coupled with the growing influence of the Hoysalas in the northern Kannada territory, effectively saw the Chalukyas becoming a spent force in the region. In fact, in 1190, Chola King Kulothunga Chola II allied with Hoysala emperor Veera Ballala II to finally defeat Chalukya King Somesvara VI to end the Chalukya empire. 

The only local resistance that the Cholas were never fully able to eliminate was from the Pandyas and, to a lesser extent, the Sinhala kings of Lanka. Eventually, this would prove to be their undoing. 

Next: The Later Cholas

Of political fortunes

By Robert Harris

As promised, I finally got down to reading the last Robert Harris novel, Imperium, after a long interregnum since I read the second part of this trilogy, Conspirata. Ideally, of course, I should have read them in order, but certain practical constraints made that difficult to achieve. Nonetheless, the splendor of ancient Rome that Harris has managed to pain to well was laid open to bear in this great work, with its masterful narration that keeps readers hooked to every page and the winding tale of the political life of Cicero, while making way to bring in what we all know to be the death of Rome as we knew it - the rise of Julius Caesar.

The charm of Harris' historical fiction is that he really gets into the skin of the character, using language that is apt for the times, incorporating sufficient historical accuracy to make it believable but not so much as to turn it into a history textbook. In all his works, except possibly The Ghost, which was a political statement more than a novel, show this streak of genius in him. Indeed, I do look forward to the release of Dictator later this year, as the final tale in the life of Cicero. 

The New Minority

The last month has revealed a new, sinister twist to the unending and rather pointless discussion of secularism in India, a discussion that has left the Muslim community emaciated to the extent that their condition is comparable to those of the Dalits who faced discrimination for thousands of years, despite India being ruled largely by Muslims kings just a few hundreds of years ago. After 2014 though, it has become clear that Muslims have finally ditched the chief architect of their miseries - the Congress party - in favor of either their own parties such as the MIM or local players like AAP.

But the plot is changing. Without a captive minority votebank, the Congress party is in serious danger of dying, and with it, the ecosystem that it has built - bureaucrats, journalists, so-called intellectuals, all beholden to the Gandhi dynasty. Thus, there is a need to bring that votebank back, but by a method that would not be as obvious as it had become in the last decade under the UPA. Enter the new minority - Christians. Constituting about 2% of the population, with a majority in a few small states, they are by far the most well-off after the Parsis and Jews, providing quality education to people who have been failed by the state.

So here is the plan. Out of nowhere, it seems, Christians are in grave danger in India. Incidents that have nothing to do with religion altogether - notably the rape of a nun in lawless West Bengal - are being twisted into the rubric of secularism. People whose patriotism has been above question, such as Admiral (Retd.) Sushil Kumar Isaac, Justice Joseph Kurien and Julio Riberio, have suddenly turned away from defending the nation to defending their faith. Petty journalists like Mihir Simon Sharma have suddenly turned into authorities on secularism. And never before, despite the ban on beef by many states including Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir, has the cause of beef been taken up so arduously by anybody in India.

This is not a coincidence. This is a very calculated trick by the deep Congress, which wants to clear the decks for the return of the Congress party in 2019 or even earlier. Who is the key architect of this? To answer that, it is as simple as to find the name that is on everybody's mind but nobody wants to talk about - Sonia Gandhi, who has the added interest of seeing her incompetent son become the PM in her lifetime (how much ever of that is left). A new minority is being constructed in India, and if they fall for it, they will go down the same path as Muslims have gone and be left with nothing. Their high education standards will help slow down the deterioration, but with shrinking opportunities that the Congress is famous for creating, even that will not last for long. Another decade of the Congress' secularism, this time with Christians at the center, will push the community to levels even their ancestors would not have imagined possible.

Clearly, this is the greatest and most diabolical political realignment of our times. Much will depend on how Modi brings the Indian economy back to its feet, for money speaks louder than anything else. Perhaps Modi knows this. The trouble with the BJP Government is, it's just impossible to tell what the government is thinking. That can be a double-edged sword. 

Lessons from Operation Rahat

As the MEA-led Operation Rahat, involving the Indian Navy, Air Force and state-run Air India, to evacuate Indians from war-torn Yemen comes to a close, some analysis is due. The mission was a massive success for the Indian Government, particular the team of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her deputy, Gen (Retd.) VK Singh. And it was a success in many different ways.

First, politically, it inadvertently turned into a slugfest between the Modi-hating so-called mainstream media and the vast constituency that brought the BJP to power in the Modi wave of 2014. Although this liberal media has tried to attack the Prime Minister previously in the Pakistan Terror Boar incident, where it received some lukewarm support, it saw a massive resistance this time around, with the scenes of thousands of Indians and also close to a thousands foreigners from 41 different nations being rescued by the armed forces leading to a severe backlash against the media for trying to spin this against the Prime Minister and his government once again. The net political dividend can be summed up by one word - Presstitutes - that brings back the 'news traders' jibe that Modi the campaigner had made to great effect. The English media today stands thoroughly discredited and nobody believes what they say. Everybody believes they are thoroughly compromised and push an agenda instead of reporting the news. This is exactly what Modi would want.

Second, and more importantly, is the strategic impact of this operation. This was the largest operation of its kind by the Indian armed forces, a fact that was repeated all over the world (except, obviously, by the Indian media). For the first time since the 1988, when India intervened in the Maldives to successfully defend the government there, India became a net security provider for the people of the subcontinent. Of course, that is not to say that India fought on one side - that would have been silly, for this is not our war - but in a situation of war, the Indian armed forces set a goal for themselves, put together a plan that combined military preparedness as well as the highest level of diplomacy and saw it through to a level of success that led to the envy of even the mighty United States. This is no less than actually fighting in a war - one away from the mainland, at that.

And last is the military impact. Operation Raahat clearly demonstrated that the Indian Navy is almost at the blue-water threshhold, but not there yet. This mission was only possible due to a veritable naval base being established temporarily in Djibouti, which could act as a common point to integrate supply lines. No doubt, this was a successful mission conducted far away from the mainland, but it did require a base to be established on land, which puts it just below the blue-water threshold. It is however, only a matter of time before a carrier task force replaces the need for a land-based command, after which true blue-water capability will be achieved. And that time is not very far.

Finally, it is apparent that the great NATO powers have taken note of the fact that both India and China successfully carried out rescue missions while many of the member-countries, most notably the US, did not. If there was ever a moment that showed just where power has moved in the world, this is it.  

Saturday, April 4, 2015

To save IIT Jodhpur

Undergraduate and postgraduate students and faculty of IIT Jodhpur, one of the several new IITs established by the UPA-II and current BJP administrations, seems to be bucking the general trend in just about every other institution of higher learning in India. While other institutions have been struggling to hire new faculty to meet the almost-crippling shortage, IITJ has set a record in firing faculty without tenure in large numbers, virtually halving its already small faculty strength since the new Director Dr. CVR Murthy took over.

No wonder then that they have put together a comprehensive declaration against the Director, which can be accessed here:

While these accusations need to be verified, they are certainly very serious. An academic institution cannot be run as a fiefdom of an individual, and certainly not one that takes taxpayer money to run. It is nobody's case that faculty should not be subject to high standards for tenure, but the test of those standards need to be fair and transparent. Termination midway without any warning or justification is not fair - even if the faculty were below par, they deserve to have an exit interview and know exactly why they are being terminated.

Excessive centralization is a menace that has taken India backwards, something that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, no less! The Director of IITJ seems to be going down that very unenviable path and taking his institution with him. Certainly, the Director has a right to know what's happening in his institution - but for something as petty as a leave application to have to go all the way up, for approval to use student Gymkhana funds, to have to go all the way to the highest authority makes a mockery of the system of deans and wardens that exist and shows a pathological need for excessive control.

What Dr. Murthy's personal problems are, are of no concern to anyone but himself and his family. But in so far as they damage IITJ's students and nascent faculty, they cannot be tolerated. He has clearly failed the institution and should resign for the good of everybody. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

AIIB is a message to the world

As the US and Japan, mainly, sit back to lick their wounds from what can only be called a complete diplomatic disaster, there are many lessons to be learned about what the world could look like in a few decades. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), led by China, on the face of it, is meant to complement existing global financial architectures, the WB, the IMF and the ADB, all of which are controlled by the US and its allies. However, it does not take much logic to see that it is meant to supplant those institutions.

What the US is missing is that, with its economic heft in decline because of massive debts run up by unbridled global war, China is becoming the new economic superpower of the world. While the US may have a larger economy, it simply does not have liquid money of the kind China does. That is why all of the US' allies except Japan have signed up - for the sheer need to be a part of that economy and the global trade that it brings. The next step is obvious: the AIIB will allow the usage of the Chinese Yuan and pave the path for it to become a global currency, initially complementing the dollar but eventually pushing it out.

And no one is to blame for this but the US itself. For years, it has paid lip service to increasing IMF quotas for emerging economies in a fair and substantial way. Despite a strong demand across the world for an Asian IMF chief, the US ensured that another French chief came to the top, once again ignoring the fact that Europe is essentially finished. Decades have gone by on UNSC reform with nothing coming out of it. This is the reality today: if the US is not going to lead in ensuring a fair global order, it will lose its leadership to someone else, most probably China. Unless the US upholds rules of fairness that it itself established after World War II, it will lose this game.

Now is not the time to cut losses and leave. Existing allies - including Taiwan - broke ranks, that does not mean that the US should simply ignore it. The right thing to do is to promote the new allies the US has in Asia - the arc from Japan to India - to their rightful place in the global architecture and put Europe where it belongs i.e., far away. This is the age of multipolarism and the winner will be the first among equals. That will take leadership, which the US sorely lacks at this time.