5 May 2013

More intrusions in Indian Territory by China to follow...

Issue Courtesy: CLAWS | Date : 03 May , 2013

The Defence Secretary has reportedly informed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence that the Chinese intrusion at Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) in Ladakh region is actually 19 kilometers deep inside Indian Territory. This should dispel any doubts that the intrusion is a localised affair. With the hold of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over the PLA, promotions of PLA officers contingent upon favourable recommendations by the concerned Political Commissar overseeing particular unit/ formation, plus the PLA Chief reporting directly to the CCP instead of the Chinese Government, there is absolutely no possibility of a local commander taking an independent decision of this nature.

As per MEA, the presence of Chinese in the DBO Sector is kilometers ahead of even the Chinese perception of the LAC, records of which are available with the MEA.

If media reports of government having surmised this as a ‘localised affair’ are true, then the assessment appears misguided. Media also reports that this assessment is based on some inputs received during a flag meeting with the Chinese. Even if this has been conveyed by the Chinese during a flag meeting, its fallibility should be weighed against the Chinese Government assertion that there has not been any transgression across the LAC at all.

Under no circumstances can this intrusion be categorised as routine transgression based on Chinese perception of the LAC even as the 400 transgressions by PLA across the LAC during 2012 (as stated by the RakshaMantri) and similar intrusions in previous years were being brushed away routinely as the PLA coming up to “their perception of the LAC”. The seriousness of this intrusion (so far some 50 PLA in tented camp) must be viewed in light of the following:
  • As per MEA, the presence of Chinese in the DBO Sector is kilometers ahead of even the Chinese perception of the LAC, records of which are available with the MEA.
  • The Chinese Foreign Ministry is repeatedly asserting that there is no intrusion at DBO and that the PLA platoon is camping in Chinese territory.
  • As reported in media, Chinese have put forward unacceptable preconditions to India as quid pro quo to withdraw from DBO.

Above should make it amply clear that China does not intend to vacate this intrusion and dialogue is not going to lead to this unless additional measures are enforced by India without beating of war drums to create situation for China to vacate DBO. However, before discussing such measures, it is important to look at the implications in the event that Chinese firm in permanently at DBO, which are as follows:
  • Strategic importance of DBO lying astride the old silk route leading to Karakoram Pass (KK Pass) and beyond to Yarkand in China.
  • Chinese occupation of DBO hindering Indian patrolling to KK Pass.
Possibility of DBO being used as a base to threaten the rout to Siachen Base Camp. The significance of DBO should also be linked with the strategically unsound proposal to withdraw from Siachen.
The situation in Demchok on account of Chinese incursions and claims.
Quite contrary to what is being thought as a ‘localised action’, this Chinese intrusion is a well thought out strategy by China sowing the seeds for establishing a link between Gilgit-Baltistan with Aksai Chin.

During Operation ‘Vijay’ in 1999, China quietly developed a road in eastern Aksai Chin towards DBO, significance of which was apparently glossed over. In 2012, China called upon Japan and South Korea to establish astronomical observatories in Aksai Chin.Google imagery of 2006 shows an extraordinary large scale (1:500) terrain model extensively duplicating eastern Aksai Chin built close to Yinchuan (capital of Ningxia Autonomous Region). The 3,000 × 2,300 feet model is being used for tank war-games – in preparation of a future battle in East Sikkim.

Quite contrary to what is being thought as a ‘localised action’, this Chinese intrusion is a well thought out strategy by China sowing the seeds for establishing a link between Gilgit-Baltistan with Aksai Chin. It is reiterated that Chinese consolidation in this area will threaten Siachen and any further expansion has the potential to turn the flanks of Indian occupation of Siachen Glacier on the same analogy as Chinese are claiming the Doklam Plateau in Bhutan, Chinese occupation of which will turn the flanks of Indian defences at Tri Junction in Sikkim. Should our policy makers fail to get over their pacifist illusion of China, the consequences will be severe. It should be quite clear that this intrusion cannot be resolved through dialogue alone. Not only should conditions be created to appropriately reply to the physical and psychological challenge posed by China, Beijing should be clearly told that what we do in our territory by way of improving infrastructure (Chinese infrastructure is already many times better than ours) or positioning of troops is none of their business. The bluff of Chinese preconditions must be called which is actually aimed at putting India at the back foot. Letting the Chinese consolidate in DBO negates resolutions passed in Parliament that J&K is integral part of India and we will not cede any territory.

Let a challenge be posed to China by establishing an Indian Army post behind the DBO intrusion…

We must draw lessons from earlier Sino-Indian standoffs that have made the Chinese turn their tails. Let a challenge be posed to China by establishing an Indian Army post behind the DBO intrusion,which in any event is our own territory and throw the mental gauntlet back at them(or in another sector ahead of our existing positions if escalation is not desired here). If the conflict does escalate, Chinese vulnerabilities can be exploited. On the diplomatic front, the Foreign Minister could shelve his visit to China citing unprecedented hostility by China through this deep intrusion and the Chinese should also be informed that the situation is not conducive for having purposeful talks during the proposed May 2013 visit of Chinese Prime MinisterLi Keqiang. Action needs to be taken at multiple levels. Unless we act resolutely now, more intrusions in Indian Territory are likely to follow.

This map does not reflect India's claims or actual holding, but accurately represents the area

By Ajai Shukla and Sonia Trikha Shukla
Business Standard, 4th May 13

Even for the most intrepid helicopter pilots of the Indian Air Force (IAF), flying a sortie to the desolate outpost of Daulat Beg Oldi on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, has always meant pushing the limits. Wing Commander Abdul Hanfee, who had won a Vir Chakra for his devil-may-care flying in Siachen, would take off from the Siachen Base Camp with his Mi-17 helicopter loaded with rations and fuel and set course for Saser La, the towering 17,753-foot pass on the Karakoram range. With the helicopter rotors shuddering as they clawed through the thin air, Hanfee would look down from his cockpit as he flew over the pass, still littered with the bones of camels, ponies and human wayfarers --- the detritus of a bygone era when arbitrary frontiers had not disrupted centuries-old patterns of trade and connectivity.

This was the Old Silk Route that connected Ladakh and Kashmir with Xinjiang --- now, like Tibet, an “autonomous region” of China. Well into the 20th century, camel caravans laden with silk, jade and hemp would set out from Yarkand and Khotan in East Turkestan, and travel to Leh and Kashmir from where they would bring back Pashmina wool, Kashmiri zafran (saffron), tea and calligraphy. After crossing the Karakoram Pass into India, the traders would leave their camels at what is now Daulat Beg Oldi, and transfer their goods onto pack ponies for the cruel journey over the Saser La into the more hospitable Shyok river valley that led on to Leh, Turtok or Srinagar. For the merchants and pilgrims who carried considerable sums in gold and silver, the treacherous Karakoram was far less hazardous than the robber bands and insecurity on the other route to Central Asia through Punjab and Afghanistan.

This isolation has defeated even the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), which has laboured for over a decade, so far unsuccessfully, to build an all-weather road over Saser La that will connect Daulat Beg Oldi (or DBO, in military phraseology) with Leh, Partapur and Kargil. The BRO has failed equally in bringing another road northwards to DBO from the Pangong Tso Lake, along the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Without road links to the rest of Ladakh, DBO remains an isolated enclave across the Karakoram and Ladakh ranges, dependent upon the IAF for food, fuel, ammunition and quick troop replenishments. Going there on foot involves an exhausting five-day march at altitudes that would exhaust an ibex. The military calls this enclave Sub-Sector North (SSN) and regards it as crucial for the defence of Siachen and Leh.

According to Lt Gen Kamleshwar Davar, a former commander of 3 Infantry Division under which this area comes, “SSN has major strategic value for India. If the Chinese were to come up to Saser La, our control over the Siachen Glacier would be seriously compromised since Saser La overlooks that area. SSN provides a protective buffer to the Siachen sector and also provides depth to the northeastern approaches to Leh. Furthermore, SSN is our land access to Central Asia, along the Old Silk Route through the Karakoram Pass.”

Baigas’ battle

Mohinder Desor
May 2, 2013

It is heartening to note that there are people like this who are not only concerned about the deteriorating environment, but actually take great pains to redress these issues which confront all of us.

Hello, Thank you for this article. I'm a lead actor currently working on a character based on a tribal to become a national leader. It is for a film titled MAY-DAY scripted & directed by Jharana Jhaveri & Arundhati Roy.

The fight of the Baigas of Madhya Pradesh to regain their traditional rights is also a fight to restore the diversity of their forests and to protect national wealth. By ASHISH KOTHARI and SHIBA DESOR

“WELCOME to the rajdhani of the Baigas,” exclaimed Sukkal Singh Rathuria of Dhaba village. We grinned, realising that his rajdhani, or capital, was not some gleaming, raucous city, but the impressive forest we were walking through. We were amid the Baiga tribe of eastern Madhya Pradesh, visiting villages whose residents had shown courage and resolve in protecting the forests around them in the face of multiple threats.

“Surely, though, the Baiga forest must have been much more than just sal trees?” one of us asked. The patch we had walked through in the last half hour was dominated by the stately sal (Shorea robusta), with only a smattering of other tree species. Before coming here we had read about the Baiga tribe’s legendary ability to recognise hundreds of species and use each of them in myriad ways. Where was this diversity?

Birju Singh Bindhia jumped into the conversation. “Not so long ago, we had a much greater variety of plants in this forest. Then the Forest Department came along with its working plan involving coupe felling, which included getting rid of crucial species like mahuli, kayafal, lianas and others that interfered with the felling. They also deliberately encouraged only sal so that over the years other species disappeared. Seeing this, our own people also indulged sometimes in felling, and we lost the traditional restraint that our elders had practised. But now we are bringing them back, and nature is responding.”

Indeed it was. Not much further on, as we came to patches protected for a decade now, we saw the regeneration of char, bamboo, mahuli (the enormous liana, Bauhinia vahlii), the Entada vine and several herbs and bushes that had apparently become scarce. Our Baiga hosts also showed us parts of the forest degraded by felling where they had through shramdaan (voluntary labour) planted bamboo and other species. All this was part of the villagers’ resolve to conserve the forest and revive its diversity, the primary action for which was stopping coupe felling. This they achieved by physically preventing the Forest Department staff and labourers from cutting trees and, in some cases, even seizing the axes, saws and measuring tapes until the department assured them that no felling would take place. Despite threats of police action, the gram sabha had managed to protect the forest from these operations and also passed multiple resolutions which mandated that coupe felling operations by the Forest Department could not be continued without the consent of the villagers.

Walking through the extensive forests around villages such as Dhaba, Pondi and Phitari, we came across the occasional sign of wild animals—bird calls, sambhar and porcupine droppings, and holes dug by bears. But there should have been much more. Nagesh Kumar Maravi of the Jungle Adhyayan Mandal (forest study group) explained: “It’s due to the logging. How can any wildlife survive when there is so much disturbance —dozens of trucks moving in and out, labourers continuously occupying the area, and, of course, the felling itself? And so much wildlife depends on the lianas and other species the [Forest] Department has removed.”

What about hunting by the Baigas? Our hosts said this could not have been a major factor, as most of the hunting was with bow and arrow and of late it had in any case come down a lot. Besides, every clan within the Baiga had taboos against killing certain species. For instance, the tiger was not hunted by any of them. However, we could not quite shake off the feeling that even if the damage caused by them is small when compared with that caused by the Forest Department’s operations, hunting also may have contributed to the silence of the forests.


The Jungle Adhyayan Mandal, an initiative of the National Institute of Women, Child, and Youth Development (NIWCYD), has involved a couple of dozen youth from the Baiga and Gond tribes in documenting the biodiversity of the area. In a preliminary exercise, it documented details of 71 bird species, 56 varieties of trees, 23 types of wild vegetables, 18 types of tubers and 34 varieties of medicinal herbs. The mandal’s members admitted that wildlife numbers were significantly lower than what these forests could potentially support.

Protection, however, offered hope. Villagers reported that species such as the wild pig, the bear and the deer were increasing in numbers. If this continued, they said, predators such as the leopard and the tiger may also come back. Some villagers claimed to have either sighted these cats or spotted signs of their presence in recent times. Others said they may be passing through, but could become more regular or even choose to reside in the forest if the protection measures continued. The villagers concurred with NIWCYD member Balwant Rahangdale’s view that a forest without tigers was not quite complete, and that tigers ensured the forest’s protection by restricting people’s movement.

India to develop Iranian port

Atul Aneja

Decision on Chabahar spurred by Chinese stake in Pakistan’s Gwadar port

India on Saturday announced its participation in the Chabahar port project — a move that would reinforce New Delhi’s strategic ties with Tehran and Kabul ahead of next year’s withdrawal from Afghanistan by the United States.

The decision to forge a trilateral partnership was announced in Tehran by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.

In a vast tastefully furnished hall in the Iranian Foreign Ministry where he was flanked by his counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi, and delegates of the two countries, Mr. Khurshid’s words rang loud and clear: “The convergence of views between India and Iran goes beyond the ambit of bilateral relations and extends to the regional and international arena as well. The Chabahar port project is one such area which reflects our commitment to the stability and peace in Afghanistan.”

Analysts point out that India’s participation in upgrading the Chabahar port has deep geopolitical resonance.

The full development of the port would lower landlocked Afghanistan’s dependence on Pakistani ports for assured access to the sea. Besides, the trilateral arrangement could balance joint forays by China and Pakistan into the Indian Ocean. In February, Pakistan decided that China would operate its Gwadar port, just 76 km from Chabahar.

For the first time, Gwadar would provide Chinese ships sustained anchorage in an area on the edge of the Arabian Sea, not far from the Strait of Hormuz, through which the bulk of the world’s energy supplies pass.

Observers say the development of Gwadar may have imparted some urgency to India’s decision to go ahead with the Chabahar project.

Mr. Khurshid made it plain that India’s energetic engagement with Iran was the result of deep deliberation, and could be traced to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Tehran for the non-aligned summit last August. “The visit of the Prime Minister to Iran was a clear expression of India’s commitment and the value we attach to our relations with Iran,” he said. He added that his own visit to Tehran should be seen as the “continuation of this tradition of constructive engagement”.

Weapon that has more than symbolic value

Shyam Saran

The Hindu

While India needs to make its nuclear deterrent more robust, it is misleading to spread the notion that it is dysfunctional or non-existent

Since India became a declared nuclear weapon state in May 1998, there has been a concerted campaign, particularly by non-proliferation lobbies in western countries, echoed by analysts in China and Pakistan, to spread the notion that India’s strategic programme has been driven by considerations of prestige and propaganda, rather than by any real security threats. Lately such assessments have also begun to emerge from some Indian commentators, who argue that “India’s dominant objective was political and technological prestige, while for every other nuclear weapon state it was deterrence.”

Security environment

These assessments conveniently ignore the steadily worsening regional and global security environment India has confronted right since its birth as an independent nation. With the advent of the atomic age, India became conscious of the fact that possession of nuclear weapons by a country or a group of countries created an asymmetrical international order which would limit India’s strategic space and independence. India’s preference was and remains a world from which nuclear weapons have been eliminated. It is the only state with nuclear weapons to profess that its security would be enhanced, not diminished, in a world free of nuclear weapons. However, India has also been categorical in rejecting the division of the world in perpetuity into nuclear-haves and have-nots.

After the end of the Cold War, a determined attempt was made to legitimise precisely such a division, firstly by making the discriminatory Non-Proliferation Treaty permanent through an amendment adopted in 1995. Then a similar discriminatory Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996 was foisted without any link to the goal of nuclear disarmament, a link that India had consistently insisted upon. These moves would have permanently foreclosed India’s option to acquire a fully tested nuclear weapon arsenal, while those already in possession of nuclear weapons would enjoy an asymmetrical advantage in perpetuity. This would have severely undermined India’s security, making it vulnerable to nuclear threat and blackmail.

If we add to this the regional dimension as it unfolded over the years, India’s compelling security dilemma becomes even more apparent. In 1964, China exploded its first nuclear bomb and this came only two years after the 1962 border war, in which India suffered a humiliating defeat. One can well imagine the sense of vulnerability this would have created in the country. A serious quest for a nuclear capability may be traced to this period, culminating in the 1974 Peaceful Nuclear Explosion. Thereafter, the clandestine acquisition of nuclear weapons and missile delivery capabilities by Pakistan, fully supported and assisted by China, created a heightened security threat to India. That China actually supplied a fully tested nuclear weapon design to Pakistan in 1983 and may have even tested a Pakistani weapon at its test site in Lop Nor in 1990, confronted India with a hostile Sino-Pakistan nuclear nexus, which continues to operate even today. (There are recent indications that China may be revising its no-first use policy.) It is this evolving regional and global security landscape which precipitated India’s decision to carry out a series of tests in May 1998 and declare its status as a nuclear weapon state. It was the quest for security in a hostile and threatening environment that drove the country’s strategic programme, neither prestige nor propaganda.

What’s behind that glass of milk?


Illustration: Deepak Harichandan

The author throws light on some grim details about the cow in India, the world’s largest producer of milk.

You know that child who throws a terrible tantrum over a glass of milk. How he kicks and screams and refuses to touch the stuff? Haven’t you wondered what the fuss is all about? After all, it’s just a glass of milk.

It turns out the child may just have the right idea. The business of producing milk — indeed, the multi-crore rupee cattle industry it’s a part of — is sustained by a process of relentless cruelty towards animals, from birth till death, with little letup. Cruelty compounded by poorly defined, poorly implemented methods and gross violations.

In 1998, India, hitherto a milk-deficient nation, surpassed the U.S. as the highest milk-producing nation, a position it holds till date. According to the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, the government has invested Rs. 2242 crore to help meet a national demand of 150 million tonnes of milk by 2016-17. Millions of cattle will be produced (mainly through artificial insemination) for this purpose.

This will be done through “productivity enhancement, strengthening and expanding village-level infrastructure for milk procurement and providing producers with greater access to markets. The strategy involves improving genetic potential of bovines, producing required number of quality bulls, and superior quality frozen semen and adopting adequate bio-security measures etc.” Today India is home to the world’s largest cattle herd, with 324 million head.

The government is positioning this as a food security measure for the future. From the point of view of the animals, though, unthinkable cruelty lies ahead.

That image of tender care and worship that we are raised with, the image that is propagated in films and integrated with our cultural values — that’s a myth. In reality, the life of a cow in India is a horror show.

The first three stages of life — birth, maturity and motherhood — happen with inhuman haste. The female calf is born. She reaches puberty somewhere between 15 months and three years of age, depending on the breed, and is then impregnated, increasingly through artificial insemination.

Arpan Sharma, external relations in-charge at the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations, builds partnerships for better protection of animals by bringing together various stakeholders such as industry, government and regulators. He says, “Due to poor equipment and a lack of proper training, artificially inseminated cows sometimes become infertile and develop infections with few to care for them.”

Soon, the calf is born. While the cow is seen as a metaphor for motherhood, she is rarely given a chance to experience its joys for very long. Calves are separated from their mothers soon after they are born so that they don’t drink up all the milk. Just what does this do to these docile creatures?

The American physician Dr. Michael Klaper, the author of books such as Vegan Nutrition: Pure and Simple and Pregnancy, Children, and the Vegan Diet, provides an insight. “On the second day after birth, my uncle took the calf from the mother and placed him in the veal pen in the barn — only 10 yards away, in plain view of the mother. The mother cow could see her infant, smell him, hear him, but could not touch him, comfort him, or nurse him. The heartrending bellows that she poured forth — minute after minute, hour after hour, for five long days — were excruciating to listen to. They are the most poignant and painful auditory memories I carry in my brain,” he said in a 2010 interview with the Northwest Veg, a non-profit organisation based in Portland, Oregon.

Sunny future

Sujay Mehdudia

The Hindu The domestic manufacturers of solar equipment are livid at the government’s failure to protect the interests of the solar industry from cheap imports.

As a sun-swept country, India should have been a pioneer in the use of solar power with a photovoltaic panel on every roof. Good policy can help make up for lost time.

Solar is the most secure of all energy sources, since it is abundantly available in India. With crippling electricity shortages, the price of electricity traded internally touched Rs. 7 a unit for base loads and Rs. 8.50 during peak periods.

The 12th Plan envisages 29,800 megawatts (MW) in capacity addition through renewable sources. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, launched in 2010, anticipates that grid parity will be achieved by 2022 and parity with coal-based thermal power by 2030.

The domestic manufacturers of solar equipment are livid at the government’s failure to protect the interests of the solar industry from cheap imports, despite policy guidelines providing for such measures.

According to V. Saibaba, CEO, Lanco Solar, the lack of access to energy is a key challenge in India’s growth story, with approximately 400 million people having no access to electricity and another 400 million having limited access. Solar energy, with its inherent applicability of being modular and environment friendly, can help in transforming the lives of millions.

However, Mr. Saibaba underscores the need for serious intervention from various regulatory agencies (government, quasi-government and non-government) to alter market behaviour by removing specific barriers and introducing measures to make quality solar appliances affordable and viable.

Another hurdle faced by solar power developers is the lack of financing for companies, and difficulties in priority sector lending for household solar appliances, despite approval from the Reserve Bank of India.

“Compulsory solar installation must be mandated in new buildings without which water and electricity connections should not be given; The States should offer additional subsidy as in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh for widespread adoption by all income groups,” he adds.

Tata Solar Power, a leading player in the solar market, feels solar energy should be treated as a key solution to boosting economic growth and not just as an alternative energy source. “Look at solar as a sunrise industry and not just as a part of the larger power industry. Actively promote solar energy as a viable alternative in urban India and not just as a solution to power-deprived rural or remote regions,” says its CEO Ajay K. Goel.

The government must protect and nurture the industry, including the domestic solar manufacturing sector. It will ensure the country is not dependent on imports. “The government has taken some steps to achieve this, but the steps have been either poorly executed or have loopholes,” Mr. Goel adds.

Mission flaw

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), which is responsible for administering the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, did mandate in Phase-I of the Mission a domestic content requirement for both cells and modules; but it was applicable only for crystalline PV technology and not thin film. However, more than 75 per cent of the projects used imported thin-film technology. In contrast, thin-films account for less than 15 per cent of the total solar installations worldwide. While thin-films have their specific application, in India the choice was made not for technological, but financial, reasons.

“The lack of clarity is evident in Phase-II too; the government stated that a percentage of the overall power projects worth 750 MW to be tendered for competitive bidding under the Viability Gap Funding Scheme would be reserved for projects with domestic content norms, while the rest of the projects would be free to procure components from any country. What was not specified is the quantum of reservation for domestic content and any exception as in Phase-I. This ambiguity and lack of commitment to protect the domestic solar industry will have an immediate and far-reaching impact on its sustainability,” Mr. Goel remarks.

The meek do not inherit the earth

Saturday, 04 May 2013 

The world now feels that India can be pushed around with impunity. This is because the message has gone round that the UPA regime is as abysmally pusillanimous as it is thoroughly corrupt

Understandably, there have been conflicting interpretations of the motives of a unit of China’s People’s Liberation Army in advancing 19 km inside Indian territory across the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh. Whatever the merits of the various nostrums, the fact is that China is doing it because it knows it can get away with it. The message has gone round worldwide that the present Government in New Delhi is as abysmally pusillanimous as it is corrupt. Nothing has contributed more to this more than its policy toward Pakistan, which is an inglorious narrative of appeasement and surrender. Beginning with the retreat from the position of holding no talks until the perpetrators of 26/11 had been brought to book, India has bent over backwards on every issue to propitiate Pakistan. It is hardly surprising then that Pakistan paid little heed to New Delhi’s earlier plea to repatriate Sarabjit Singh to India, and the subsequent request, after the murderous attack on him in a Pakistani jail, to send him to this country for treatment. In the end, his body came home in a coffin.

Even the Maldives, which has always been a part of India’s recognised sphere of influence, has been snapping its fingers at New Delhi. According to a report, the naval exercise Tropex-2013 was shifted from the country’s eastern to western seaboard, to back India’s diplomatic moves to resolve the crisis there, by a display of naval power. One can argue that this ensured that the Opposition leader, Mr Mohamed Nasheed, who was arrested on March 5, a fortnight after leaving the Indian embassy in Male where he had taken refuge, was released on March 6. If so, then the result is rather meagre. Mr Nasheed should not have been the leader of the Opposition in the first place. He should have been the country’s President. India should never have stood by and watched his forcible ouster on February 7, 2012, by a process approximating a coup.

Mr Nasheed is a known friend of India. His tenure as President had witnessed India-Maldives relations rising to a new level through the establishment of a coordinated security apparatus involving the installation of radars in various atolls. These, linked to India’s coastal security system, were to monitor developments in the strategic Indian Ocean area in its vicinity. His Government shared intelligence with India on the activities of fundamentalist Islamist terrorist groups and provided significant investment opportunities to Indian firms.

The naval exercise, which was carried out in February this year, ought to have been conducted at the time of Mr Nasheed’s ouster last year, and followed by stronger action if India’s concerns went unheeded. Indeed, stronger action would most probably have not been necessary. The memory of Indian intervention in 1988 against militants of People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam trying to take over the island country, would have counselled caution among supporters of former President Abdul Gayoom, who were behind the ouster. Far from following any such action, India’s leaders offered “warm felicitation” to the new President, Waheed Hassan Manik, and his Government, even before the sun had set on the day!

India tested, found wanting- NEW INDIAN EXPRESS

By Bharat karnad
03rd May 2013

A Chinese military move seriously to test India’s resolve has been on the cards for a long time now. But, this is only a gambit by Beijing to see what level of provocation will get the Indian government to act, and a means to establish a baseline for future actions. Alas, the Chinese planners misjudged how much soft tissue there is in India’s China policy, and foreign and defence policies generally, where spine should be.

From the first, the China Study Group (CSG) headed by the National Security Adviser and old China-hand, Shivshankar Menon, which fuels the Ministry of External Affairs’ thinking on the subject and dictates the government’s response whenever China heaves into view, decreed that the brazen armed intrusion be soft-pedalled. Thus, the depth of penetration in the Depsang Valley in Ladakh by People’s Liberation Army troops was initially stated as 8 km, before this figure was revised to 10 km and later 19 km. Now, 19 km is not a distance that small military units “stray across” as much as it is ground covered in a directed mission and yet, the junior minister in the Home Ministry managing the Chinese border with some miserable paramilitary maintained it was a mere “incursion”, not armed “intrusion”. By such hair-splitting is the Manmohan Singh government determined to do nothing?

China, in the meantime, adopted its standard stance when disrupting peace on undemarcated land and sea borders. It refused to acknowledge there was any such intrusion. When the PLA presence at Raki Nullah could no longer be denied, it stood the incident on its head by accusing the Indian Army of “aggressive patrolling”, and followed up by offering a fantastical trade-off: India ceases construction of necessary border military infrastructure and mothballs the advanced landing fields in the area in return for the status quo ante.

All the while, Beijing took its cues from excuses the MEA offered for the Chinese outrage, saying it arose from “differing perceptions” of where the LAC lay. The MEA minister, Salman Khurshid, revealing his cosmetological skills, then referred to the Chinese ingress as acne that can be cured with “ointment”. 

With the offensively-disposed Chinese military units inside Indian territory, it was again the CSG-MEA that offered Beijing a reason to stay put, saying the Chinese should be provided a “face-saving” way out of the mess they created by repairing to the negotiating table, whereupon the Chinese government promptly called for talks to restore peace. It is little wonder China sees India as a punching bag, an easy target to bully and badger.

The conclusion cannot any longer be avoided that either the China Study Group constitutes a Chinese fifth column at the heart of the Indian government, or is staffed by idiot savants. The classic illustration of an idiot savant is a mentally challenged person who can memorise the numbers on the wagons in a freight train rattling past his house, but does not know how to tie his shoelaces or, in this case, can read Confucius’ Analects in the original but is unable to see a straight forward land-grab for what it is — loss of national territory. The mostly Mandarin-speaking diplomats and experts in CSG seem so overawed by China they cannot resist acting as Beijing’s B Team. 

At heart, the problem is that the 1962 war so institutionally rattled the MEA they still act groggy from that blow fifty years after the event and cannot recall just how military success was gained against the Chinese PLA, most recently in the 1986 Somdurong Chu incident. Having espied a PLA unit on the Indian side of LAC, General K. Sundarji airlifted troops, surrounded the Chinese encampment, placed artillery on the nearby heights ready to reduce the Chinese position to rubble, and tented a unit just 10 metres from the Chinese camp (not 500 metres as was bandied about in official circles).

How India should respond to China’s new tactics

Raj Chengappa

India's strengthening of defences may have spooked the Chinese, who sense there is a dramatic change in the balance of power on the border as compared to 1993, when they were still in full control. Rather than feeling inferior, India should now move with confidence and force a new equilibrium more favourable to it.

A platoon, five tents and a dog is what the Chinese intrusion 19 km inside the Line of Actual Control (LAC) comprises in a sensitive sector that India has regarded as being under its control. In that sense, it is not a big, belligerent message that China has sent to India. However, it has been sufficient to trigger a wave of condemnation and misplaced hysteria across India’s political spectrum.

Yet, as the standoff with China over the intrusion in Daulet Beg Oldie (DBO) sector enters its fourth week, it is apparent that this is not the initiative of a local Chinese Army company commander trying to settle territorial scores with his Indian counterpart in “both men’s” land, as the LAC has come to be regarded. The key to understanding the recent Chinese moves is to discern the multiple messages they have been sending India recently, some overt and others symbolic.

The continued presence of a small contingent of Chinese troops at the intrusion point without signs of a large army build-up to back them indicates that so far China would prefer the situation to remain fluid, and alter it depending on the response. Chinese government spokesperson Hua Chunying, while maintaining that Chinese troops hadn’t intruded, did not stridently contradict India’s assertions that this was India’s territory. She said “China and India are committed to resolving disputes, including the boundary one, through peaceful negotiations” and maintaining continuing “peace and tranquillity” on the LAC as part of the 1993 agreement the two countries had signed.

Paramilitary policemen walk past a portrait of Sun Yat-sen, the forerunner of China’s revolution, ahead of May Day at Tiananmen Square in Beijing. — Reuters

At three flag meetings held between the two armies after the intrusion, China reportedly insisted that India should halt work on certain infrastructure projects on the LAC that it believes are too close for comfort before it pulls back from DBO. Meanwhile, Beijing announced the dates for External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid’s visit to Beijing, May 9-10. Khurshid is expected to lay the ground for the visit of the new Chinese Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, later this month. That the Chinese premier chose India for his first foreign visit after taking over in March is a signal of the importance the new leadership places in its relations with Delhi.

Khurshid remained ambiguous over whether he would go to Beijing if the standoff continued, even as Opposition parties like the BJP demanded he call off the trip. But if Khurshid cancelled the trip it would mean spurning China’s offer to settle the border intrusion through “mutual understanding”. That is likely to result in the cancellation of the Chinese premier’s visit and an escalation of tensions on the LAC, which neither country wants, especially with both preoccupied with other pressing concerns.

Perhaps the answer to the recent Chinese intrusion lies in the statement made by the new Chinese President, Xi Jinping, to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when they met in Durban this March on the sidelines of the BRICS summit. While following the usual script on the border dispute of “a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement based on mutual understanding and accommodation”, Xi added significantly, “Let’s do the boundary framework agreement quickly.” Chinese leaders never make such statements on an impulse and India took it as a positive signal.

Two can play at coercive diplomacy

Rajendra Abhyankar

COUNTER-LOOP: The message New Delhi needs to deliver is that this stand-off is not in the interest of China or India. A table tennis match between the two Armies at the Line of Actual Control. Photo: Special Arrangement

India’s response to China’s incursion in Ladakh must be based on well-developed, counter-coercive tactics

It is now some time since the Chinese “incursion” into Indian territory first took place, and there has been no mitigating gesture from China as yet. After the failure of the third flag meeting, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson on Thursday said the issue is capable of being resolved “quickly” through the consultation mechanism on border affairs. We are now in a classic situation of coercive diplomacy by the Chinese. The Chinese, who have not rescinded from their original position either on the ground or by their words, have given their minimum essential demands to meet their goals, and by asking “for patience” only imposed a mild degree of urgency on the outcome. Given the Indian predilection to postpone hard decisions, the outcome of this tussle will depend entirely on our will and ability to engage them in “counter-coercive” tactics of which we have seen no evidence so far.

China’s position has to be understood for what it is: if we succumb to their demand to demolish the structures at Daulat Beg Oldi, we will have accepted the principle of coercive diplomacy in future dealings on the border issue with China, put paid to our plans to shore up and upgrade defences on our side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and reduced India’s salience in the western sector; if we don’t succumb and they continue in their present positions, we will have ourselves negated such sanctity of the LAC as we believe. In so doing, we would also call into question the 1993 Agreement on Tranquillity and our own policy.

Global standing

Much has been written about the slide in our holdings on the LAC during the last 25 years to show that the present situation is the outcome of successive governments and Army chiefs choosing to turn a blind eye at the People’s Liberation Army encroachments into what we regard as our side. It looks like Kargil all over again. Our present policy of viewing this “incursion” as something to be defused locally and not affecting “the larger picture” of bilateral relations gives a free pass to our Army and shifts the onus from a collegiate response by Defence, Home and External Affairs only to the last. Like Khrushchev during the Cuban missile crisis, the Chinese have concluded that the Indian government is one that can be pushed around. Against this backdrop and with elections ahead, our Foreign Minister’s forthcoming visit to Beijing can only be seen as courageous, if not foolhardy. It also calls into question the harping on the importance of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to India later this month. For whom is the visit important and what would be lost if it is put off until this fracas is addressed?

The seriousness of the situation has to be seen in the context of India’s global standing and in South Asia. With the disastrous denouement to the Sarabjit affair, and our unsatisfactory performance in Maldives and Sri Lanka, India’s pre-eminence in the region seems increasingly rhetorical; so also the oft-repeated view of India’s pretensions in the Indo-Pacific in the context of the United States “pivot” to Asia. How we act now will also impact the views of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan when we seek to protect our interests, and retain political and economic space after the U.S. drawdown in 2014. Similarly, we need to recognise that we are conjoined with Japan and Korea in being subjected to China’s aggressive stance. What we do now will have a significant impact on those stand-offs as well.

India sings peace to an occupier

First Published: Mon, Apr 29 2013. 

Our leaders need to separate caution from appeasement. Inability to do so will be disastrous for the country

The same old scenario has unfolded again: China quietly occupies a strategic area and a diffident India is left preaching the virtues of diplomacy and peace. When China set out to eliminate the historical buffer with India by invading Tibet, New Delhi opposed Lhasa’s desperate plea for a discussion at the United Nations. And when China stealthily took control of the Switzerland-size Aksai Chin plateau and began building the Tibet-Xinjiang highway through it, India’s first response was to send a démarche asking Beijing naively as to how it despatched workers to Indian territory without seeking visas for them.

Whereas the People’s Republic of China was born in and built on blood, modern India was founded on a continuing myth—that it won independence through non-violence, not because Britain was in no position after the devastation wrought by World War II to hold on to its colonies. It was not until 1962 that India woke up reluctantly to Leon Trotsky’s warning: “You may not be interested in war but war is interested in you.”

But for the lesson of 1962, India’s leaders may still have mocked George Washington’s famous words: “To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.” Even today, the leadership in ruling and opposition parties remains largely clueless on statecraft and national security affairs. A dysfunctional foreign policy is holding back India’s rise.

China now is working to alter the line of control bit-by-bit by employing novel methods—without having to fire a single shot. With India a mute spectator, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has brought pastoralists to Uttarakhand’s Barahoti sector and given them cover to range across the line. Using pastoralists in the vanguard and troops in the rear has also been tried elsewhere to drive Indian herdsmen out of their traditional pasture lands and assert Chinese control over those places.

In this way, China is encroaching, little by little, on Indian land in the Chip Chap and Skakjung regions of Ladakh. Chumar in Ladakh was raided last September by helicopter-borne PLA troops, who destroyed Indian bunkers before returning. Officials in Arunachal Pradesh are tired of complaining about the Union government’s nonchalant attitude to PLA’s aggressive activities along their state’s border.

Therefore, few should be surprised by India’s timorous response to PLA’s occupation of a border site near the strategic Karakoram Pass linking China to Pakistan. But even by its own standards of appeasement, India has outdone itself with its grovelling reaction to the deepest Chinese incursion in more than a quarter-century.

India initially blacked out the incursion, in the way it has suppressed its own figures showing a rising pattern of Chinese cross-border military forays. A whole week went by before New Delhi said a word on record about the PLA’s furtive ingress. The first public word, tellingly, came after Beijing issued a bland denial of the incursion in response to Indian media reports citing army sources. Another five days passed before New Delhi revealed the incursion’s true depth—19km.

The external affairs minister has stood out as the appeaser-in-chief. The incursion is just “one little spot” of acne in an otherwise “beautiful face” to be treated with “an ointment”. When not making such embarrassingly inane comments, he has grovelled, going to the extent of saying that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s planned visit will take precedence over ending the incursion. He hastily announced a trip to Beijing, as if paying obeisance at the Chinese foreign ministry—the weakest branch of China’s government—can get the intruders out.

Sardar Patel saw through China

Sunday, 05 May 2013 | Rajesh Singh | in Plain Talk

One month before he passed away in December 1950 and a good 12 years before the Chinese attacked India in 1962, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had drawn Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's attention to Beijing's shenanigans and warned him against trusting the neighbour.

In a letter to Nehru, which finds place in JN Dixit's book, Makers of India's Foreign Policy: From Raja Ram Mohan Roy to Yashwant Sinha, Sardar Patel noted that the “Chinese Government has tried to delude us by professions of peaceful intent”. Nehru did not heed his Home Minister's advice, and the nation paid the price. Now, we have yet another Congress regime which is showing a similar disastrous tendency in the wake of many recent Chinese incursions into Indian territory, including the very latest at Daulat Beg Oldi in Ladakh sector, where China's Army personnel have pitched their tents for more than a fortnight now. The question is not if, but when will India pay another price for its meekness?

The context of Sardar Patel's letter may have been different from the crisis that we have today. He had concentrated his concerns over Beijing's designs in the North-East and along the Tibet border. But the larger narrative then, as it is now, remains the same: That New Delhi must stop appeasing China and taking the latter at face value. Instead, it should be assertive and aggressively mindful of its sovereignty and security needs.

Contrast our virtual state policy today to bend over backwards to please China with that of Sardar Patel's strong disapproval of our then Ambassador to China's supine overtures to Beijing. On the issue of settling its dispute with Tibet, China had apparently so softened up the Indian Ambassador that the latter had turned almost apologetic about having sought a clarification from Beijing on its intentions regarding Tibet. Patel wrote, “Our Ambassador has been at great pains to find an explanation or justification for Chinese policy and actions”. Does a similarly pathetic attempt to be an apologist for China not resonate today? Various senior Ministers of the UPA regime too have taken great pains to explain away the latest incursion. Union Minister for Home Affairs Sushil Kumar Shinde justified the intrusion on the ground that it was in a “no man's land”, while Union Minister for External Affairs Salman Khurshid trivialised the incident as an “acne” that will go away with the application of an “ointment”. Would these worthies have dared to make such foolish remarks if they were answerable to a man of Sardar Patel's stature?

In his letter, Patel dealt in detail on why we should have been proactive on the Tibet issue. The Tibet matter is now considered settled, with New Delhi accepting the region as a legitimate part of China. But, while we have been so accommodating to Beijing even in the face of protests by the Tibetan people, China has showed no such consideration to our sensitivities on the border issue. Back in 1950 even, as the then Home Minister pointed out, Beijing had been treating India with disdain. He drew Nehru's attention to the fact that “even though we regard ourselves as the friends of China, the Chinese do not regard us as their friends… this is a significant pointer which we have to take due note”. Nehru did not take due note then, and Manmohan Singh is not taking due note now.

Patel did not stop at that. He pointed to the language the Chinese had used in their correspondence with New Delhi on a range of issues including India's so-called proximity with the West and its stand on Tibet. Referring to one such correspondence, he said, “Their last telegram to us is an act of gross discourtesy not only in the summary way it disposes of our protest against the entry of Chinese forces into Tibet but also in the wild insinuation that our attitude is determined by foreign influences. It looks as though it is not a friend speaking in that language but a potential enemy”. How prescient Sardar Patel had been to call China a “potential enemy”! In recent times, leaders such as George Fernandes and Mulayam Singh Yadav, besides those of the BJP, have taken a similarly realistic line.


Bhaskar Roy, C3S Paper No:1140 dated May 2, 2013

The April 15 Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) camp in Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) in the Ladakh sector on the India-China undemarcated border is definitely worrying. It is not the regular intrusion of patrols who come in, drop some markers, and return. It is a camp which can turn into a permanent Chinese post in a contested area which held on peacefully for more than twenty years.

The two countries have invested much in stabilising the borders through various agreements and protocols starting with the Peace and Tranquillity Treaty (PNT) in 1993 when Prime Minister Narasimha Rao visited Beijing. All such agreements have been signed at no less than the Prime Ministerial level.

The ice was broken between India and China when Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi took the initiative to visit China. The Chinese position on the border issue became sharp in the run up to the visit. Then Chinese Premier Li Peng, reportedly adopted a hard line. It was Chinese pre-eminent leader late Deng Xiaoping who retrieved the situation through his personal intervention.

Although that was some years before Deng Xiaoping enunciated his famous strategic theory of “hide your strength, bide your time”, he was trying to secure a peaceful environment for China for economic development. He also advocated if the country’s various territorial issues could not be solved immediately, they should be shelved, if needed for the next generation or even a hundred years and to develop relations in other areas.

India-China relations have come a long way since then. China is now India’s biggest trading partner, though the contents need urgent assessment from the Indian side. Cheap and shoddy Chinese goods are coming in while exports to China are of more strategic nature like iron ore and other basic material. Trade still remains heavily in China’s favour.

The Chinese leaders have agreed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s strategic view that there is enough space in Asia for both India and China. But there are other players like Japan and the new US pivot to Asia, with US President Barack Obama’s rebalancing in Asia apparently to reaffirm US position for economic reasons which, of course, required building stability through security intervention.

The Chinese strategic think tank was content with US engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan, which allowed Beijing to dominate Asia especially its maritime claims with Japan and the South East Asian countries.

Unfortunately, the Chinese leadership has been actively considering from as early as 2003 the concept of China as the “Central Kingdom”. This is not an idle concept but a very serious one from the time of the great Chinese leader Mao Zedong. Mao was neither an economist nor a social manager. Otherwise, the disastrous “Great Leap forward” and the “Great People’s Cultural Revolution” would not have been unleashed by him. He was a ruthless politician. Becoming the fifth nuclear power in 1964 was the first significant step towards the central kingdom syndrome.

Deng Xiaoping’s strategy was to maintain a stable environment to build a strong economy which was to be ploughed into military and high technology.

They are following the basic security platform. Development and security are interdependent, and a strong military ensures peace under China’s conditions.

This strategy in turn led to the PLA becoming not only a military force but also a political force. The Party commands the gun, and the gun protects the Party. This mutual interdependence is almost one of the most unique political structures in the world. After years of study Chinese official researchers have concluded that the Soviet Communist Party fell because the armed forces were depoliticised in the sense of western military practice.

The first two generations of communist leadership in China led by Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping and their contemporaries fought in the liberation war and, in fact, led revolutionary movements. Both were, therefore, able to control the military leaders.
Since then, successive party chiefs Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and currently Xi Jinping have not been military leaders, though Xi’s father fought in the liberation war’s long march and Xi himself has worked in the PLA in civilian roles.

But the Party-PLA interdependence has given the PLA strong policy strength, even though the PLA (except for a few exceptions) are aware their future also depends on the power of the Party. Jiang and Hu had to buy PLA loyalty and not command it. Xi also has few other options.

Chinese strategists especially the military believe strongly that Deng’s theory of keeping a low profile had served the purpose at a certain historical period. In the recent past with its economic, strategic and diplomatic power China is in a position to demand its own sphere of influence – a Chinese version of the American Monroe doctrine and, perhaps, a Marshall Plan.

Standoff at 15,000 Feet

Photos of the world's highest border dispute.
MAY 3, 2013

The so-called "Line of Actual Control" -- a 2,400-mile disputed boundary that divides India from China -- is longer than the distance between Jacksonville and San Diego. Most of it is located in the high, desolate mountains -- land where "not even a blade of grass grows," as Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru put it in the years preceding the 1962 Sin0-Indian War. And yet this barren landscape has been a source of tension between the two Asian giants for more than half a century.

The recent incursion by Chinese soldiers into Indian territory is only the latest in a long history of skirmishes over the boundary. While cooperation since the border was reopened in 2006 has helped diffuse tensions, the dividing line is still regularly crossed by the Chinese military. In their article "The Most Dangerous Border in the World" for Foreign Policy, Ely Ratner and Alexander Sullivan write that while the latest standoff is unlikely to result in war, the China-India fault line is worth our attention as a flashpoint in the complicated dynamics between the two powers. For more, check out these images of life on the ever-fraught Sino-Indian border. 

Above, Indian Army soldiers patrol the Line of Control at the India-China international border in Bumla at an altitude of 15,700 feet above sea level in Arunachal Pradesh state, India in October 2012.

Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force personnel salute as they march during their Passing Out Parade at the Additional Training Centre in Amritsar, India in March 2013.

Departing French Envoy Has Frank Words on Afghanistan

Published: April 27, 2013 

KABUL, Afghanistan — It is always hard to gauge what diplomats really think unless one of their cables ends up on WikiLeaks, but every once in a while, the barriers fall and a bit of truth slips into public view.

Bertrand Langlois/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In a farewell speech, Bernard Bajolet outlined the challenges facing Afghanistan. 

That is especially true in Afghanistan, where diplomats painstakingly weigh every word against political goals back home.

The positive spin from the Americans has been running especially hard the last few weeks, as Congressional committees in Washington focus on spending bills and the Obama administration, trying to secure money for a few more years here, talks up the country’s progress. The same is going on at the European Union, where the tone has been sterner than in the past, but still glosses predictions of Afghanistan’s future with upbeat words like “promise” and “potential.”

Despite that, one of those rare truth-telling moments came at a farewell cocktail party last week hosted by the departing French ambassador to Kabul: Bernard Bajolet, who is leaving to head France’s Direction Génerale de la Sécurité Extérieure, its foreign intelligence service.

After the white-coated staff passed the third round of hors d’oeuvres, Mr. Bajolet took the lectern and laid out a picture of how France — a country plagued by a slow economy, waning public support for the Afghan endeavor and demands from other foreign conflicts, including Syria and North Africa — looked at Afghanistan.

While it is certainly easier for France to be a critic from the sidelines than countries whose troops are still fighting in Afghanistan, the country can claim to have done its part. It lost more troops than all but three other countries before withdrawing its last combat forces in the fall.

The room, filled with diplomats, some senior soldiers and a number of Afghan dignitaries, went deadly quiet. When Mr. Bajolet finished, there was restrained applause — and sober expressions. One diplomat raised his eyebrows and nodded slightly; another said, “No holding back there.”

So what did he say?

That the Afghan project is on thin ice and that, collectively, the West was responsible for a chunk of what went wrong, though much of the rest the Afghans were responsible for. That the West had done a good job of fighting terrorism, but that most of that was done on Pakistani soil, not on the Afghan side of the border. And that without fundamental changes in how Afghanistan did business, the Afghan government, and by extension the West’s investment in it, would come to little.

His tone was neither shrill nor reproachful. It was matter-of-fact.

“I still cannot understand how we, the international community, and the Afghan government have managed to arrive at a situation in which everything is coming together in 2014 — elections, new president, economic transition, military transition and all this — whereas the negotiations for the peace process have not really started,” Mr. Bajolet said in his opening comments.

He was echoing a point shared privately by other diplomats, that 2014 was likely to be “a perfect storm” of political and military upheaval coinciding with the formal close of the NATO combat mission in Afghanistan.