Showing posts with label India. Show all posts
Showing posts with label India. Show all posts

23 July 2017

** The Doklam Standoff Is The Beginning of a Troubling New Era in India-China Ties

By Gaurav Kalwani

The Doklam standoff is just the beginning of challenging times for India. 

High in the Himalayas, Indian and Chinese forces stare each other down in the midst of the most intense standoff between the two nations in the last three decades. Though the territory is unique and unfamiliar to many, the situation is commonplace; aggressive Chinese expansionism, motivated by nationalistic furor, is being carried out under the guise of obscure territorial claims. This kind of behavior from Beijing is nothing new; the same can be said of New Delhi’s response. Put in concert with the continuing freeze in India-China relations and the broader geopolitical competition between two rising powers, the Doklam standoff seems quite neatly (albeit worryingly) laid out. But however compelling this narrative might be, it is a mistake to view the conflict only through the prism of India-China competition and ignore the underlying Indian domestic politics of this current crisis: the challenge of Northeast India. Understanding the larger context of the Northeast’s importance to India highlights just what is at stake here for the nation.

The basic facts of this dispute are now clear, even if the precise geography is not. In June, Indian forces crossed an established border between the state of Sikkim and the Tibet Autonomous Region in reaction to China building roads through territory claimed by both China and the Kingdom of Bhutan. Besides a longstanding commitment to guiding and defending Bhutan’s interests, much has been made of India’s larger domestic motivation in this conflict. Chinese expansion in the area pushes the country ever closer to the Siliguri Corridoror “Chicken’s Neck,” a narrow strip of land that serves as the only connection between Northeast India and the rest of the country. Despite it being perhaps the primary motivating factor in a dangerous and complex crisis, little attention has been paid to the region of the Northeast itself. Understanding its unique situation is key to understanding the forces behind Doklam.

India searches for way out of border standoff with China


The Indian Defense Ministry has contradicted reports of Chinese troop mobilization on the border. In a statement on Wednesday, the ministry said there had only been a general state of alert on the Chinese side and a routine annual military exercise was held near Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, in June.

This is despite a report by People’s Daily on Wednesday citing “expert” opinions that China’s “recent military moves along the Sino-Indian border … have sent a strong message to India amid the two nations’ standoff”.

The daily assessed that “Chinese experts believe that the actions showcased China’s strength and sent a strong signal to India. Though India has more troops scattered along the disputed area, China’s rapid deployment of troops, its powerful weaponry, and its advanced logistics support give China the edge over India.”

However, New Delhi is studiously playing down the border tensions. The government has taken exception to Indian media hyping the standoff with China.

Unnamed army sources in Delhi disclosed on Wednesday that no flag meetings as such had taken place between local commanders and that the standoff was being discussed at the “highest level” of the government.

What's Driving the India-China Standoff at Doklam?

By Ankit Panda

India’s insecurities and China’s indignant conviction have contributed to a state of absolute gridlock at Doklam. 

Since mid-June, scores of Indian and Chinese troops have reportedly been locked in a standoff on a piece of territory claimed by China and Bhutan. Though the dispute between the two nuclear-armed rising Asian giants might appear to be a bilateral affair, the dispute in question is a tripartite one, as it involves the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan at its center: the terrain in question is claimed by Bhutan, which has long had a special and privileged relationship with New Delhi while having no diplomatic ties with Beijing. As of this writing in mid-July, China’s position remains that diplomacy can only be possible after India unilaterally withdraws its troops back to its side of the international border and the standoff appears no closer to a resolution.

Last week, in the first installment in this series, I explored the political geography of the obscure slice of Himalayan terrain at the center of the ongoing standoff between India and China: the Doklam triboundary region, or the Dolam plateau. Given the obscurity of the geography under contention and the lack of robust historical information about the origin of Indian, Chinese, and Bhutanese claims, the place to begin in understanding the standoff at Doklam is a map — or multiple maps, to be precise. This week, I turn to more granular questions of the strategic stakes for each side that have resulted in effective gridlock between India and Chinese troops at Doklam.

China’s War Threats and Military Brinkmanship against India 2017 analysed

By Dr Subhash Kapila

China-India military confrontation in the High Himalayas as a consequence of China’s military occupation of Tibet in 1950 and the unprovoked Chinese invasion of India in end 1962 has in 2015 graduated from a boundary dispute to an intense geopolitical tussle in Asia’s geopolitical rivalries. This was the main thrust of my Book last year entitled “China-India Military Confrontation: 21stCentury Perspectives” that stands greatly reinforced in 2017.

Geopolitical compulsions seem to be the driving force of China indulging in confrontation with Indian Troops in the Dokalam Plateau after militarily coercing the Royal Bhutan Army border patrols there. China’s military standoff here is aimed at questioning India’s geopolitical and geostrategic Special Relationship with Bhutan. China also is testing India’s political will to militarily sustain this Special Relationship.

Geopolitics seem to be in full play by China relative to the Dokalam Plateau standoff where China has implicitly threatened that China could generate disturbances for India in Sikkim, Bhutan and the Kashmir Valley. Only yesterday, the J&K Chief Minister openly declared in New Delhi that China was involved in the Kashmir Valley unrest. This was foreseen in relation to the CEC alignment. China has therefore now added new dimensions to the China-India military confrontation which so far stood confined to the India-China Occupied Tibet borders.

22 July 2017

** What the India-China Doklam Standoff Means for Nepal

By Narayani Basu

The crisis drives home Nepal’s delicate position as it tries to balances ties with its neighbors. 

Should the ongoing stand-off between India and China at the Bhutan-China-India triboundary point escalate, where does Nepal stand? This question will be troubling Kathmandu as New Delhi sticks stubbornly to its guns and Beijing’s rhetoric grows shriller by the day.

In recent times, Nepal has preferred to maintain, in theory, what it terms an “equidistant” relationship with both countries. In practice, however, matters are a little different. Since Narendra Modi’s government swept to power in India in 2014, Nepal’s ties with New Delhi have frayed. 2015 saw the promulgation of a new Constitution in Nepal, under the aegis of newly elected Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. India’s reaction to this was as bizarre as it was brazen – not only did it merely “note” the existence of the new Constitution, despite the welcome it received internationally, but India imposed an “unofficial” blockade on Nepal in order to secure the rights of the Madhesi people (who have close ties to India’s own people in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar). The blockade lasted for five months – but given that India stood as Nepal’s largest trade partner, besides providing sole access to ports and seaways, the impact on the domestic economy as well as on bilateral relations was little short of brutal.

India's U-Turn on North Korea Policy

By Samuel Ramani

India’s new moves to isolate North Korea will reverberate across East Asia. 

On July 7, 2017, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) released a strongly worded statementcondemning North Korea’s July 4 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch. In their statement, Indian MEA officials described Pyongyang’s ballistic missile program and nuclear proliferation links as posing a grave threat to India’s security and international peace. The Indian MEA also called on all international supporters of North Korea to be held accountable for their actions.

India’s strident condemnations of North Korean belligerence follow a string of anti-Pyongyang actions authorized by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In April, India aligned with United Nations (UN) stipulations by banning all trade with North Korea, with the exception of shipments of food and medicine. This decision brought an abrupt end to a decade of growth in India-North Korea trade links.

While India possesses little leverage over North Korea, these policy shifts have profound implications for both Pyongyang and New Delhi. As India and North Korea have a long history of trade links and cordial diplomatic ties, India’s implementation of UN sanctions against Pyongyang could slow the progress of North Korea’s ballistic missile program and weaken its economy. In addition, India’s policy shift on North Korea will help Modi strengthen India’s relationships with South Korea and the United States, increasing New Delhi’s diplomatic profile and access to foreign investment.

China standoff: 'The Indian Army should stand firm'

'When sensitive territory goes into the hands of your enemy. he becomes more powerful in military terms.'

'Assuming the Chinese take over the Doklam Plateau they will not stop at that.'

'They will keep ingressing, and it will be easier for them to further expand their territory.'

'I feel the Chinese will vacate that area in two months after it begins to snow.'

Lieutenant General Dr D B Shekatkar (retd), PVSM, AVSM, AVSM, was in charge of the entire China front in Arunachal Pradesh during the Kargil War.

The general, who served extensively in the North East, also compelled a record number (1,267) of terrorists in Kashmir, trained in Afghanistan and Pakistan to give up terrorism.

General Shekatkar spoke to's Archana Masih on the India-China standoff in the Sikkim sector.

Why a plateau in Bhutan is important for India:

I know the Dokalam area in Bhutan since 1992 where the Chinese are exerting their claim. It is at the tri-junction of Sikkim, Bhutan and China.

It is legally important for us because in mountain warfare, even a 10 feet high ground is of importance.

Over the years, the Chinese came during the grazing season, stayed for a few days with yaks and went away. They used to tell the Bhutanese that this is our area.

21 July 2017

Death is the only winner in LoC clashes

Arun Joshi

In the long run, clashes on the LoC serve no purpose. Pakistan should know that it cannot alter geography nor sustain militancy in the Valley for long. India must realise war-mongering does no good. Both the nations should seek to rediscover the usefulness of the 2003 ceasefire agreement for enduring peace.

THE escalating tension and killing exchange of fire at the Line of Control that divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan is nothing but a lose-all proposition. No one gains from these clashes which have become a regular feature since 2008 — five years after the armies of India and Pakistan were able to seal a historic ceasefire agreement on the borders. It was to cease hostile activities on the LoC that had resulted in action and loss of lives until 2003. 

As the things stand today, soldiers and civilians from both sides have been killed. Hundreds of people have fled border villages as their homes and fields receive the raining mortar shells and gunfire. Schools have been shut. A tragedy of unknown proportions was averted on July 18 when the Army, police and civil administration evacuated more than 200 children from schools. They were trapped because of unrelenting shelling by Pakistani troops in Nowshera villages in the Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir. Nobody would have owned the tragedy that was, fortunately, averted by the administration's timely action. India would have claimed that its villages were shelled by Pakistan and the latter would have made a counter-claim that it was retaliating to unprovoked fire from the Indian side. Both sides accuse each other of opening unprovoked fire and claim they only retaliate. If the two sides are to be believed, neither side initiates gunfire. However, this is not a fact.


JS Rajput

Initiatives must come from the minority community. Let the J&K problem be resolved by ways of governance, but the Indian Muslims must show the way

Visuals of children and young persons throwing stones at their own security persons and getting injured, could disturb sensitive citizens in any country. In Jammu & Kashmir, it has been standardised as an ‘approved’ mean of protest by the unscrupulous. This must be a singular instance in which those responsible for burning schools are not booked for sedition and put behind bars. Flush with funds from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, they indulge in perpetrating violence on a daily basis, sniffing lives out of innocent citizens and security personnel.

Their frequent bandh calls inflict immense hardships and misery on every citizen, particularly children and the daily wage earners, small shopkeepers and all those who earn their daily bread through minor jobs. Sadly enough, the state presents a picture of helplessness, unable to constrain the activities of known miscreants. They spread religious hatred and; against all norms of humanity; resist relocation of Kashmiri Pandits. What an irony that the perpetrators of inhuman and heinous crimes get Government security and perks.

Signature moves - India's political will is being tested by China

Kanwal Sibal

India's China-challenge is mounting with Beijing's growing power, its swelling hubris and increasing acts of bullying. China is utterly self-centred in its thinking and considers its self-defined interests paramount. It decides unilaterally the scope of its sovereign rights and, based on its own version of history and facts, determines when they are being violated. It uses offensive and undignified language in diplomatic communications, exposing the crude facet of China's ruling class.

All these reprehensible traits are visible in its dealings with India. To take only the recent years into account, there has been a spate of serious provocations against India. New Delhi has absorbed these blows and preferred engagement to confrontation for many reasons, not the least because of the expanding power gap with China and the realization that the cost of aggravated tensions would be higher for India than for China. This has only encouraged China to be patronizing in its dealings with India and to brush aside its legitimate concerns. This has happened even as the two countries have maintained regular contact at the top leadership-level, with numerous meetings, whether bilateral, during international conferences, or within the Russia-India-China format or the format of BRICS. Therefore, it is not lack of contact or communication at the highest levels that would explain China's objectionable behaviour towards India.

Will the Doklam Standoff Lead to a Second India-China War?

By Rajeesh Kumar

Both India and China have every incentive not to go to war. 

The mounting military tensions at Doklam, the triboundary area connecting Bhutan, China, and India, have generated the impression that India and China are going to repeat their 1962 war. Official Chinese media and think tanks have warned India that conflict can lead to war if not handled properly and India should learn lessons from history. When asked about the possibility of the current dispute escalating, Luo Zhaohui, China’s ambassador to India, did not dismiss the likelihood of such a development. And an article in The Global Times, referring to India’s involvement on behalf of Bhutan, reminded New Delhi that “under India’s logic, if the Pakistani government requests, a third country’s army can enter the area disputed by India and Pakistan.”

In New Delhi the rhetoric is similarly tough. For instance, when Beijing invoked the 1962 war and its humiliation for India, Defense Minister Arun Jaitley replied that “India of 2017 is different from India of 1962.” Likewise, General Bipin Rawat, India’s chief of army staff also acknowledged the possibility of an Indo-China war and said that the”Indian Army is fully ready for a two and a half front war.” The government’s recent authorization of the army to make an emergency purchases of ammunition, stores, and spares for several weapon platforms also point toward an impending short, intense war between India and China. Taking it further, some policy observers have directly compared the current standoff with 1962 by casting new actors and settings; Narendra Modi and Bipin Rawat instead of Jawaharlal Nehru and B.M. Kaul, and Doklam in place of Dhola Post.

20 July 2017

*** The India-China War of 1962 and its Political After-Life


India-China relations require a fundamental reset and a new scholarly book provides a useful, if indirect, contribution to how we think about the relationship. 

Amit Das Gupta and Lorenz Lüthi’s The Sino-Indian War of 1962: New Perspectives is a most topical and useful book for two reasons: For one, it revisits a topic that has been relatively neglected in recent Indian scholarship using archival and other material that have become available in the last two decades. With access to (some) Chinese and to Russian/Soviet archives, and to the archives and memoirs of actors in other states, it is now possible to widen the lens from speculation about Indian and Chinese motives, and to attempt a clearer picture of what led to the war, its international context and its aftermath. 

The other reason is that it helps us to understand better how such a brief and limited conflict, in the military sense, had such immense political and other consequences. 

As we know, the political after-life of the conflict, and its continuing effect on Indian thinking and behaviour, has only now begun to be studied and analysed. By getting an international group of younger scholars to examine various aspects of the war and its effects, the editors have done us and scholarship on the war a great service. Coming when India-China relations are in flux and require a fundamental reset – indeed when world politics itself is undergoing a fundamental reset – this is a useful, if indirect, contribution to how we think about India-China’s relationship, which arguably could be the one that most affects our nation’s success in transforming itself. 

No common ground on the Doklam plateau

M. K. Narayanan

China and India see the stand-off very differently — it’s important for the Special Representatives to meet

The Doklam plateau has become the unlikely scene of the latest India-China imbroglio. The region falls within Bhutanese territory, but this is now questioned by China. The Chumbi valley is vital for India, and any change is fraught with dangerous possibilities. The incident stems from differences between Bhutan and India on the one hand and China on the other as to the exact location of the tri-junction between the three countries.

In 2007, India and Bhutan had negotiated a Friendship Treaty to replace an earlier one. According to the revised treaty, the two countries are committed to coordinate on issues relating to their national interests. The terms of the 2007 Friendship Treaty are somewhat milder than the one it replaced, which provided India greater latitude in determining Bhutan’s foreign relations, but there is little doubt about the import of the revised treaty.

Cartographic aggression

China’s current claims over the Doklam plateau should be seen as yet another instance of cartographic aggression, which China often engages in. It is, however, China’s action of building an all-weather road on Bhutan’s territory, one capable of sustaining heavy vehicles, that has prompted Bhutan and India to coordinate their actions in their joint national interests, under the terms of the 2007 Friendship Treaty.

China briefs envoys on Doklam stand-off: Our troops waiting patiently, won’t do so indefinitely

by Shubhajit Roy

Doklam standoff: This has the diplomatic community in Beijing worried, and some have conveyed this message to their Indian counterparts in Beijing and Bhutanese counterparts in New Delhi.

A month into the standoff at Doklam, China has conveyed to foreign diplomats in Beijing that troops of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have been waiting patiently at the plateau — China claims the Bhutanese land at the trijunction with India and calls it Donglong — but will not wait for an indefinite period, The Indian Express has learnt.

This has the diplomatic community in Beijing worried, and some have conveyed this message to their Indian counterparts in Beijing and Bhutanese counterparts in New Delhi. Last month, Indian troops blocked Chinese road works in Doklam and have since been in a faceoff with PLA troops. Beijing has been insisting that New Delhi back down.

Sources told The Indian Express that Chinese officials, at a closed-door briefing last week, conveyed their version of events to diplomats stationed in Beijing. Some of the G-20 countries have been briefed by the Chinese government separately.

“Our colleagues in Beijing attended the briefing and were given the impression that the Chinese side will not be waiting for an indefinite period. This is quite worrying, and we have conveyed it to our Indian colleagues in Beijing and Bhutanese colleagues in Delhi,” a diplomat from one of the P-5 (permanent members of the UN Security Council) countries, told The Indian Express.

Why 2017 is not 1962

Bhopinder Singh

Structurally also, the independent PLA is a potential threat to its own regime of the Communist Party of China.

When Chinese editorials of its controlled media were baying for Indian blood and suggesting that Indians should “not forget history lessons” of 1962, the sharp rebuttal from defence minister Arun Jaitley that “the situation in 1962 was different, the India of today is different”, was not a political tit-for-tat but a cold reality that needs to be reiterated, stripped of any hyper-nationalistic import.

The defence forces of India are specially guarded and weigh each word thoroughly through the prism of hard facts, as opposed to any political posturing. Herein the underpinning calculus of the Indian Army Chief’s stoic comment — that “India was ready for a two-and-a-half-front-war” — was a further confirmation of the Indian preparedness towards any eventuality. This is a fact, despite the numerical and material superiority that China has maintained over India since the 1962 war, and even during the 1967 border conflict at Nathu La and Cho La, as indeed now in 2017.

It is equally true that China’s military investments are approximately thrice that of India’s ($151 billion as opposed to $51 billion for India in 2017), and that its standing Army is nearly twice that of India’s (2.3 million to 1.3 million), or even that its estimated nuclear warheads are more than twice that of India’s (260 to 110). However, none of these statistics count in a restricted war in an isolated theatre. Intrinsically and perversely, the reality of nuclear warheads at the disposal of both the Chinese and Indian regimes fundamentally alter the dynamics as compared to 1962. It acts as a deterrent against escalation to a full-scale war — no two nuclear-armed countries have ever gone to a full-scale war. Principles of “calculated ambiguity” and “second-strike capability” in nuclear doctrines militates against any unilateral approach to undertake one decisive strike, using both conventional and nuclear arms. So, in essence, the equanimity afforded by the joint nuclear status constrains conflicts between warring nations to be restricted to a limited theatre, like Doklam.

The Bhutan Stand-Off Is an Opportunity, Not a Threat

By Prem Shankar Jha

If Narendra Modi takes the pressure off Bhutan and instead focuses on the legal arguments China is making, he will find he can resolve the Sino-Indian boundary quickly.

History is in imminent danger of repeating itself, and of doing so with uncanny fidelity. All the conditions that had led to India’s crushing, humiliating defeat at the hands of the Chinese in 1962 have recreated themselves: we have once more an eyeball to eyeball confrontation between Indian and Chinese troops along a disputed border in the Himalayas. We have a prime minister making one provocative move after another towards the dragon in the north, gambling on it not spewing fire and burning us at some point.

We once more have an army unprepared for battle, whose capabilities are being exaggerated by a hand-picked army chief selected for political reasons after superseding two first-class officers who, the prime minister felt, might prove less amenable to obeying orders that went against the army’s code of conduct. We even have another tri-junction between Sikkim, Bhutan and China, as a flash point for the next war as the Dhola post was for the last one.

Repeating a scripted war?

Employment 4.0: bug, not feature

Manish Sabharwal, Rituparna Chakraborty

In the US, 31% of workers are now self-employed, freelancing or in gig economy work. But India is ahead of the US; about 75% of our labour force meets the same criteria. Uber is in the news for the wrong reasons but platform companies like it have already changed labour markets in rich countries and the model will influence even poor-country labour markets like India in the long run. But we’d like to make the case that a) India’s huge self-employment is not a feature but a bug because not all entrepreneurship is viable and not everybody can be an entrepreneur, b) employment is changing globally but formal employment is not about to go extinct and there is such a thing as bad self-employment, c) policymakers in India should focus on increasing formal wage employment and good self-employment. Let’s look at each point in more detail.

The only reconciliation of our 4.9% unemployment rate with 40% of our labour force being working poor (people making enough money to live but not enough money to pull out of poverty) is that most of our self-employed (50% of our labour force) are not productive enough to make ends meet. This huge self-employment is not some overweight entrepreneurial gene among Indians; the poor cannot afford to be unemployed so they are self-employed. While self-employment is often positioned as a labour market shock absorber for poor countries, it’s time to distinguish between good and bad self-employment.

Beyond Doklam Standoff, How India Can Trump China On Economic Front

India and China are not only neighbours but also rivals. They jostle with one another along the borders in three sectors, over support to Pakistan and terror outfits, in taking global leadership roles on critical issues, over NSG membership, as military powers, as regional leaders, over Nepal and of course, Doklam plateau of Bhutan.

India and China together are home to little less than 37 per cent population of the world and thus are centres of future. They are the biggest emerging powers of the world.

China has achieved more progress and prosperity over the last two-three decades by increasing public investment in its manufacturing industries. India is in catching up game right now, but there are indications that the tide is turning against China and in favour of India.


For better part of the last three decades, China has grown at the fastest rate among big economies. India’s growth rates were dwarfed by the Chinese. The economy of China is about five times bigger than that of India.

China achieved this growth riding on the back of massive investment in urban based manufacturing and infrastructure. The manufacturing infrastructure of China has now reached a point of diminishing returns. There are several reports about crisis in manufacturing sector in China.

TPP and India: Lessons for Future Gains

Harsha Vardhana Singh

Until 2015, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) was seen as a game-changer in the evolving international trade regulatory regime. It was evident, as expressed by India’s Foreign Trade Policy 2015-2020, that it would not be possible for the country to accept the emerging agreement. The future of TPP is now uncertain, with the US, the largest economy in the TPP, withdrawing from the agreement. This is of some relief to India because the TPP would have eroded India’s access to certain key international markets. The present situation, however, gives more than just relief: it creates several important opportunities for India. The text of the TPP agreement provides a template for potentially helping India with its domestic policy reform, its regional or multilateral collaborative initiatives (e.g. for regulatory coherence), and even with some ideas to mitigate the concerns arising in trade negotiations at the regional or WTO level.

Of particular interest could be, for instance, the good governance principles agreed under TPP, i.e. transparency of procedures and regulations, timely decision, processes to facilitate transactions, standards of review, and support to improve institutional capabilities. The TPP also establishes collaborative and consultative mechanisms amongst different countries, and identifies policies that are used to improve cost-effectiveness and efficiency of domestic production and trade. For regulatory regimes, the template includes provisions relating to the regime in general, as well as for certain specific product areas. Further, in view of the rapid evolution of international trade conditions, it would also be worthwhile to consider both the platform for discussion established by TPP, as well as the specific areas and mechanisms identified for its Committees to address emerging concerns and new issues.

China to Trim Its Army: What Does It Mean for India and the Region?

New Delhi (Sputnik) — The PLA will increase the numbers of other services, including navy and missile forces, the PLA Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese military, reported.

"The old military structure, where the army accounts for the vast majority, will be replaced after the reform. The reform is based on China's strategic goals and security requirements. In the past, the PLA focused on ground battle and homeland defence, which will undergo fundamental changes," the report said.

"This is the first time that active PLA army personnel would be reduced to below one million," it added.

The report said the number of troops in the PLA Navy, PLA Strategic Support Force and the PLA Rocket Force will be increased, while the PLA Air Force's active service personnel will remain the same.

The PLA Army had about 850,000 combat troops in 2013, according to the Ministry of Defence data.

The PLA Daily article also said that China's interests are spread around the globe and needed to be protected.