The Hindustan Times – Pannu is a traitor, his family should be boycotted: Randhawa

Gurdaspur – Panjab – India, 19 June 2020. After the Punjab Police booked Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, a US-based legal adviser of the banned organisation Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) on sedition charges for attempting to spread dissatisfaction among the country’s armed forces or abetting mutiny, Punjab cooperation and jails minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said that Pannu is a traitor and should be dealt with hard hands.

The minister was here for the cremation of naib subedar Satnam Singh at Bhojraj village in Gurdaspur.

On Pannu approaching China for getting its support for the separatist agenda, Randhawa said, “Traitors have no religion. Pannu talks about Khalistan.”

“Satnam who was killed by Chinese troops, was an ‘amritdhari’. His wife, son and father are also ‘amritdharis’,” he said.

“Pannu should be ashamed of supporting China. The entire country should condemn this and Pannu’s family should be boycotted wherever they reside in country,” the Congress minister said.

“Pannu is propagating Khalistan just to gather money from Pakistan, ISI, China and other anti-national forces. He should be brought to India and punished,” added Randhawa.

‘Oppose Akal Takht Jathedar’s remark on Khalistan’

Responding to a query on acting Akal Takht jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh’s statement favouring Khalistan, the minister said that he is against the statement.

“I am also an amritdhari Sikh. But I don’t want Khalistan. We pray and demand for khule darshan of Guru Nanak’s birth place Nankana Sahib which had gone to Pakistan.

Will you pray for darshan of Gurdwara Paunta Singh, Takht Sri Patna Sahib, Takht Sri Hazoor Sahib or Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib which fall outside Punjab tomorrow? Such a thing is not a demand of any Sikh or Punjabi,” he said.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/pannu-is-a-traitor-his-family-should-be-boycotted-randhawa/story-mDntU2eC9XjqWxFGHdSE1L.html

The Asian Age – PM Modi sidelines North East regional party MPs, leaves them out of all-party meet

The Tripura royal argued that China has a huge interest in the North East region.

Agartala – Tripura – India, 19 June 2020. The long-standing allegation of mainland India apparently neglecting the interests of the North East region has once again come to the fore.

Amid the border standoff with China, Pradyot Manikya Debburman, the former Congress leader and head of the Tripura royal family, has taken to Twitter to complain about North East regional parties not being invited for the all-party meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.

Arguing that China, which shares a long border with North Eastern states like Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, has a huge interest in the region, he tweeted: “China has a huge interest in the North East and sadly no regional party (as it has less than 5 MPs) has been invited in the all party meet.

These are small things which impact us on a day to day lives. Maybe, Delhi knows better than us but do they?”

At least 20 political parties are likely to attend the all-party meeting, called by Modi to discuss the situation at the border areas with China, sources told ANI.

The reason for the exclusion of the North East parties from the meeting could be the criteria set by the Centre, as per which invitation has only been sent to political parties with five or more MPs in the parliament.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 5 pm. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had on Thursday personally invited all leaders on behalf of Modi, ANI added.

Meanwhile, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the opposition party in the Bihar Assembly, has also not been invited for the meeting.

Taking strong exception to the exclusion, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav on Friday sought clarification from Rajnath over the party not being invited to the all-party meeting.

“Rashtriya Janata Dal is the largest party in Bihar and it has 5 MPs in the Parliament but we have not been invited to today’s all-party meeting on India-China face-off.

We want Rajnath Singh ji to clarify as to why RJD has not been invited,” Yadav told ANI.

https://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/190620/pm-modi-sidelines-north-east-regional-party-mps-leaves-them-out-of-all-party-meet.html#vuukle-comments

The Tribune – Punjab Police book SFJ adviser Gurpatwant Pannu for sedition

Accused of instigating people of Punjab through pre-recorded audio messages

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 18 June 2020. Punjab Police on Thursday booked Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, US-based legal adviser of the banned organisation Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), for sedition and unlawful activities.

Instigating youth of Punjab in favour of ‘Referendum 2020’, provoking the secession of Punjab from India and attempt to spread dissatisfaction among the country’s armed forces or abetting mutiny.

He has been instigating people of Punjab through pre-recorded audio message (IVR) from different international numbers mainly from the US for last few months.

Pannu was booked under Sections 124-A (waging war against India), 131 (abetting mutiny) 153-A (promotion disunity and disharmony) of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 10(a), 13(1) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

The trigger point for registration of the case took place today after Pannu reportedly approached the Chinese government for helping him in his anti-India activities.

Also, a number of pre-recorded calls emanating from Pakistan were also received by number of citizens, including advocates, journalists and police officials. Some callers claimed they were calling from China or were Chinese and supported Pannu.

DGP Dinkar Gupta said the calls from Pakistan proved that the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of that country was planning the whole conspiracy.

Also, the attempts to involve China, at a time when a bloody clash has taken place between armed forces of both countries, suggests there is a bigger conspiracy against the country through Pannu.

“It is highly insensitive that when brave Punjab soldiers had achieved martyrdom fighting Chinese army, Pannu and others were carrying their nefarious designs in causing bloodshed and violence in Punjab.

We will never let it happen as Punjabis are living in peace,” said DGP Dinkar Gupta. He said it was also unfortunate that the trouble was being created when each resident of the state was fighting against the spread of deadly coronavirus.

Police had earlier also lodged two FIRs against Gurpatwant Singh Pannu for his anti-India activities.

However, during last 2 months, he continued to send these pre-recorded messages from different numbers regarding which 21 DDR’s has been recorded and total 54 numbers have been blocked.

A police spokesperson added that on 13 and 15 June, one person who introduced himself as Imran made these calls saying “Sikhs for Justice will be starting a voter registration for Referendum 2020 in Punjab.

Today, you have the opportunity to undo the mistake of 1947 by participating in Referendum 2020 and Pakistan will also get a peaceful neighbour”. In this regard, a DDR on June 06 and another one on June 15 were recorded.

On 18 June, another pre-recorded audio message (IVR) was received from different numbers, where the caller claimed that she is from China and supporter of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) and wanted to tell the people of Punjab that voter registration for Punjab ‘Referendum 2020’ will start from 04 July.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/punjab-police-book-sfj-adviser-gurpatwant-pannu-for-sedition-100945

The Indian Express – Why Ladakh matters to India and China: history, geography, and strategy

What is it about this cold, dry, high altitude territory with its extremely scarce vegetation that makes it a point of disagreement between India and China?

Adrija Roychowdhury

New Delhi – India, 18 June 2020. In July 1958, an official monthly magazine in China named China pictorial published a map of the country that would in the next few months become a bone of contention between India and its East Asian neighbour.

The map in question showed large parts of the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA) and the Himalayan territory of Ladakh as part of China.

The publication had been preceded with the Chinese building a road linking parts of Ladakh with Xinjiang, an autonomous region in China, and Tibet, which was by then under Chinese control.

Soon after ‘China pictorial’ came out with the new Chinese map, the leaders of both countries began writing to each other frequently regarding Ladakh.

The exchange of letters between Jawaharlal Nehru and his Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai was followed by the Sino-Indian war of 1962.

The war also led to the formation of the loosely demarcated Line of Actual Control (LAC) running through Ladakh.

On Monday as fighting broke out along the disputed border between the Indian and Chinese militaries, at least 20 Indian soldiers including a commanding officer lost their lives.

What is it about this cold, dry, high altitude territory with its extremely scarce vegetation that makes it a point of disagreement between India and China?

In his statement in the Lok Sabha in August 1959, Nehru had said: “There is a large area in eastern and north-eastern Ladakh which is practically uninhabited.” “Where not even a blade of grass grows,” he had said famously.

Political scientists Margaret W Fisher and Leo E Rose writing in their 1962 paper, ‘Ladakh and the Sino-Indian border crisis’ noted that “indeed it is open to question how many persons in the western world could then have located Ladakh with any precision, or even perhaps have stated with any confidence the nationality of the Ladakhis.”

“Certainly very few would have credited a prediction that armed clashes and the threat of full-scale war between India and China would arise over possession of the high alkaline plain known as Aksai Chin,” they said.

The importance of Ladakh to both India and China is rooted in complicated historical processes that led to the territory becoming part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and China’s interest in it post the occupation of Tibet in 1950.

The integration of Ladakh into Jammu and Kashmir

Up until the Dogra invasion of 1834, Ladakh was an independent Himalayan state, much the same way as Bhutan and Sikkim.

Historically and culturally, however, the state was intrinsically linked to neighbouring Tibet. Language and religion linked Ladakh and Tibet; politically too, they shared a common history.

“Ladakh was part of the Tibetan empire which broke up after the assassination of King Langdarma in 742 CE,” historian John Bray wrote in his research paper, ‘Ladakhi history and Indian nationhood.’

“Thereafter it became an independent kingdom, though its borders fluctuated at different periods of its history and, at times included much of what is now western Tibet.”

Economically, the importance of the region stemmed from the fact that it was an entrepôt between central Asia and Kashmir. “Tibetan pashm shawl wool was carried through Ladakh to Kashmir.

At the same time, there was a flourishing trade route across the Karakorum pass to Yarkand and Kashgar to Chinese Turkestan,” Bray wrote.

As the Sikhs acquired Kashmir in 1819, Emperor Ranjit Singh turned his ambition towards Ladakh.

But it was Gulab Singh, the Dogra feudatory of the Sikhs in Jammu, who went ahead with the task of integrating Ladakh into Jammu and Kashmir.

The British East India Company, which was by now steadily establishing itself in India, had lacked interest in Ladakh initially.

However, it did show enthusiasm for the Dogra invasion of the area, with the hope that as a consequence, a large portion of Tibetan trade would be diverted to its holdings.

In 1834, Gulab Singh sent his ablest general, Zarowar Singh Kahluria, with 4,000 infantrymen to conquer the territory.

“There was no opposition at first, as the Ladakhis were taken by surprise, but on 16 August 1834, the Dogras defeated an army of some 5,000 men under the Bhotia leader, Mangal, at Sanku,” historian Robert A. Huttenback wrote in his article, ‘Gulab Singh and the creation of the Dogra state of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.’

Thereafter, Ladakh came under Dogra rule.

In May 1841, Tibet under the Qing dynasty of China invaded Ladakh with the hope of adding it to the imperial Chinese dominions, leading to the Sino-Sikh war.

However, the Sino-Tibetan army was defeated, and the Treaty of Chushul was signed that agreed on no further transgressions or interference in the other country’s frontiers.

After the first Anglo-Sikh war of 1845-46, the state of Jammu and Kashmir, including Ladakh, was taken out of the Sikh empire and brought under British suzerainty.

“The state of Jammu and Kashmir was essentially a British creation, formed as a buffer zone where they could meet the Russians.

Consequently, there was an attempt to delimiting what exactly was Ladakh and the extent of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, but it became convoluted since that area came under Tibetan and Central Asian influence,” researcher and international security analyst Abhijnan Rej told The Indian Express in a telephonic conversation.

“It is important to remember though, at that time people did not have a very good sense of which country they belonged to. So one can argue that when the mapping happened defining the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the British may have overstepped,” Rej added.

The British legacy of the map of the territory though continued to remain the ground upon which India laid its claim on the area.

In his book India after Gandhi, historian Ramachandra Guha wrote that “the Indians insisted that the border was, for most part, recognised and assured by treaty and tradition; the Chinese argued it had never really been delimited.

The claims of both governments rested in part on the legacy of imperialism; British imperialism (for India), and Chinese imperialism (over Tibet) for China.”

Chinese interest in Ladakh after the occupation of Tibet in 1950

The annexation of Tibet by the People’s Republic of China in 1950 sparked newfound interest in Ladakh, and particularly so after the 1959 Tibetan uprising that erupted in Lhasa when the Dalai Lama fled into exile and was granted political asylum in India.

“In attempting to crush the Tibetan revolt while at the same time denying its existence, the Chinese have used methods which have brought China and India into sharp conflict,” Fisher and Rose wrote.

To begin with, the road that the Chinese built across Ladakh in 1956-57 was important for the maintenance of their control over Tibet.

“Without such a supply route, the at the time unacknowledged Khampa revolt in eastern Tibet might have reached dangerous proportions,” they noted.

“Indeed, in the event of any serious weakening of the Peking government, this area might well prove to be the key to Chinese hold over Tibet.”

The building of the road through Ladakh upset Nehru’s government.

“Nehru had hoped that Tibet would have a degree of autonomy even though it came under Chinese occupation. A relatively independent Tibet would serve as a buffer between the Chinese and India,” Rej said.

“Once the road construction started, he knew that the original Chinese territory which is Xinjiang will have a direct connection with Tibet. This meant that the Chinese could keep on exercising their control,” he added.

The diplomatic negotiations failed, and the war of 1962 followed.

On why conflict has flared up again in Ladakh, Rej said: “There are two layers to this. First, up to 2013 India’s infrastructural development in that area was minimal.

From 2013, India started pushing for infrastructure projects there and by 2015, it became a major defence priority.

“The second layer is the 05 August 2019 decision (to remove the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and downgrade the state into two Union Territories).

From the Chinese point of view, they would have assumed that if India makes Ladakh a Union Territory, they would be reasserting its control over the entire state.

Moreover, it is also important to note that over time, Xinjiang which is part of Aksai Chin, has become very important to China for their internal reasons,” he added.

https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/why-ladakh-matters-to-india-and-china-lac-galwan-faceoff-6465198/

The Print – ‘We conquer, we kill’: Taiwan cartoon showing Lord Rama slay Chinese dragon goes viral

The cartoon was published by a Taiwanese news portal in solidarity with India amid tensions with China over the recent violent clashes that killed 20 Indian soldiers.

Taran Deol

New Delhi – India, 18 June 2020. A cartoon showing Hindu deity Rama fighting a Chinese dragon has gone viral on social media after it was published on a Taiwanese news portal.

The cartoon was in the context of the violent clashes between Indian and Chinese soldiers Monday in the Galwan Valley, Ladakh, along the Line of Actual Control.

India said 20 of its soldiers had died, and while China didn’t officially confirm how many casualties it sustained, US intelligence agencies said 35 Chinese soldiers died in the encounter.

The image was first posted on the Hong Kong social media site LIHKG by HoSaiLei, who also shared it on Twitter.

It has received 2,600 retweets and 7,600 likes since it was posted on 16 June. HoSaiLei credited the image to his “Indian friend”.

The illustration is of Rama, believed to be the seventh reincarnation of Vishnu in Hindu mythology, drawing a bow as it targets a Chinese dragon. The text, “We Conquer, We Kill”, accompanies the illustration.

It was then picked up by the news portal Taiwan News as its ‘Photo of the day’.

The cartoon is being seen as a mark of solidarity from the Taiwanese and many Indian users on Twitter thanked HoSaiLei for sharing it.

It also prompted tweets on the ‘Milk Tea Alliance’, a term coined by social media users.

The ‘Milk Tea Alliance’ is a concept that emerged from the fact that in Southeast Asia, tea is consumed in many nations with milk, except in China.

Sushant Sareen, a senior fellow at Observer Research Foundation, also shared the image and talked about the need to rethink the policy outlook towards China.

Dawn – China blames Indian troops for deadly border clash

New Delhi – India, 17 June 2020. At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a “violent face-off” with Chinese forces along the disputed Himalayan frontier, the Indian army said on Tuesday, in the deadliest clash between the nuclear-armed neighbours for more than four decades.

China blamed India for Monday’s clash in the precipitous, rocky terrain of the strategically important Galwan Valley, between China’s Tibet and India’s Ladakh region, which analysts described as “worrying”.

An Indian army source in the region said the incident involved no shooting but “violent hand-to-hand scuffles”.

Brawls erupt regularly between the Asian giants across their disputed 3,500-kilometre frontier, but no one has been killed since 1975. India had earlier put the toll at three dead.

But in a statement later on Tuesday the army added that 17 more “who were critically injured in the line of duty at the stand-off location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain have succumbed to their injuries, taking the total that were killed in action to 20”.

The Indian army said earlier that there were “casualties on both sides”.

China’s defence ministry confirmed the incident had resulted in casualties but did not give the nationality of the victims or any other details.

Beijing accused Indian soldiers of “attacking Chinese personnel”.

Indian troops “crossed the border line twice, provoking and attacking Chinese personnel, resulting in serious physical confrontation between border forces on the two sides”, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday.

“We again solemnly request that India follows the relevant attitude and restrains its frontline troops,” he added.

New Delhi’s foreign ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava claimed the clash arose from “an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo” on the border.

India and China have long squabbled about their border but recent weeks have seen an escalation.

On 09 May several Indian and Chinese soldiers were injured in a clash involving fists and stone-throwing at Naku La in India’s Sikkim state, which borders Bhutan, Nepal and China.

Alice Wells, the top US State Department official for South Asia, likely irked Beijing last month when she said China was seeking to upset the regional balance and had to be “resisted”.

But the Chinese foreign ministry said only last week a “positive consensus” was reached following “effective communication” through diplomatic and military channels.

India’s foreign ministry too sounded conciliatory, saying the two sides would “continue the military and diplomatic engagements to resolve the situation and to ensure peace and tranquillity in the border areas”.

Military experts say that one reason for the face-off is that India has been building roads and airfields to improve connectivity and narrow the gap with China’s far superior infrastructure.

At Galwan, India completed a road leading to an airfield last October. The Chinese side has asked India to stop all construction.

India says it is operating on its side of the Line of Actual Control, the de facto border.

The editor-in-chief of China’s Global Times newspaper said the Chinese military had suffered losses in the latest clash, though it was unclear whether those were deaths or wounded.

“Based on what I know, the Chinese side also suffered casualties in the Galwan Valley physical clash,” Hu Xijin said in a tweet.

He did not give further details. The Global Times is published by the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1564042/china-blames-indian-troops-for-deadly-border-clash

Scroll.in – India’s chest-thumping BJP seems surprised that Nepal too has resorted to nationalist politics

Sulking is a diplomatic approach that is unlikely to pay dividends for New Delhi.

Rohan Venkataramakrishnan

New Delhi – India, 16 June 2020. For a government that relies so heavily on muscular nationalism and rhetoric around territorial sovereignty as well as the freedom to take independent foreign policy positions, the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled India seems oddly surprised that another country might resort to the same strategy.

New Delhi has known about Nepal’s claims on Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura, which fall in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, since the 1990s. It was alerted to Kathmandu’s current concerns in November 2019.

Yet the Indian government appeared to be taken aback when its virtual inauguration of a road that travels through this territory into China provoked a nationalist response in Nepal, with hashtags like #BackOffIndia trending on social media.

The Nepal Parliament on Saturday passed an amendment to its Constitution that would alter national maps, showing the territory claimed by India as its own. A statement from New Delhi called this move “violative” and “not tenable”.

Yet the fact that it had even come down to a Constitutional Amendment, passed with two-thirds majority in Nepal’s Parliament, reflects a serious diplomatic failure. India is now reportedly trying to reach out to Kathmandu, asking it to undo the changes.

Kathmandu is undoubtedly being belligerent here.

Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli’s government, which appeared beleaguered just a few months ago, has latched on to this perceived slight from India, even though the construction of the road was hardly a secret and New Delhi has built infrastructure in the region before.

The issue appears to have put wind into Oli’s sails, which may explain why he was so willing to rush a Bill before Parliament, despite the risk this poses to what is undoubtedly Nepal’s most important international relationship, even if it is no longer a “special” one.

It is extremely unlikely that any Nepali politician or bureaucrat believes that India is actually going to concede any ground, even if Kathmandu tries to play the China card or attempts to take the matter to a multilateral forum.

India knows this, and may have even expected some mild concern from Nepal following the inauguration of the road. Yet the vehemence of the domestic anger against India also seems to have surprised New Delhi, which responded by sulking.

“India’s silence is the greatest cause for concern for the future of bilateral relations and is creating natural uneasiness in Kathmandu,” wrote Constatino Xavier of the Brookings Institution.

“After indirectly indicating its displeasure at the politically charged environment in Nepal, India has largely remained silent.

Silence speaks volumes and the relationship may now be in for a deep freeze. We do not know the exact reasons why, but it certainly transpires that Delhi does not feel comfortable to address the issue at this point or in the current context.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Neighbourhood First approach, a policy objective of addressing India’s immediate sphere of influence, brought a new sense of urgency to ties that had been in various states of disrepair earlier.

The policy has led to significant achievements on the connectivity front, yet the growing influence of China in the neighbourhood and India’s usual implementation failures have meant that the efforts are still well below their potential.

Meanwhile, the muscular nationalism that the BJP-run government promotes at home has risked endangering India’s political ties with neighbourhood nations, even as other arms of the Indian state push South Asian cooperation as the way forward.

New Delhi will have to recognise that even as it seeks to assert itself in its traditional sphere of influence, particularly with Beijing’s money being showered all around it, it cannot ignore that each country has its own domestic constituency and that pushing back against Indian hegemony will be a powerful motivator for many.

This does not mean India should give in. But its diplomatic corps and strategic planners should take into account how its moves, and the belligerent rhetoric of the BJP, will affect these ties, so that they are not surprised by similarly vehement reactions from neighbours.

https://scroll.in/article/964780/indias-chest-thumping-bjp-seems-strangely-surprised-that-nepal-has-resorted-to-nationalist-politics

The Hindu – Comment : Reimagining India-China border roads

Analysts point out that there has been a fundamental difference between the Indian and Chinese approach

Atul Aneja

New Delhi – India, 11 June 2020. Two rounds of military dialogue between India and China to end the Ladakh stand-off have brought into sharp focus their apprehensions on road construction along the unsettled frontiers.

Media readouts following the talks suggest that to China’s objections to Indian border road construction along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Indian side politely but firmly told Beijing that it should shed double standards.

China has already established a sophisticated road and rail network in its two strategic regions, Xinjiang and Tibet, that border India, and extended it in the direction of the LAC.

India has, therefore, only responded to the per-existing “facts on the ground”.

But analysts point out that there has been a fundamental difference between the Indian and Chinese approach to construction of border infrastructure outside the immediate vicinity of the LAC.

After launching its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China’s primary focus has been essentially geo-economic, to build connectivity for trade and investment on a Eurasian scale, rather than geopolitical, with the use of border roads for military purposes, only as part of its plan-B.

“In India, we fail to grasp that the DNA of the Chinese civilization is geo-economic, not so much about capturing territory through military conquests, but about capturing markets and resources based on trade and investments,”

P Stobdan, former Indian Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, who specialises on China and Himalayan studies told The Hindu.

Kishore Mahbubani, a Singaporean academic and former diplomat spotlights that China’s strategic culture shaped over the last 2,000 years persuades the Middle Kingdom from fighting “unnecessary wars”.

“Two thousand years of Chinese history have created a strategic culture that advises against fighting unnecessary wars in distant places.

The likelihood, therefore, is that, while China’s strategic weight and influence in the world will grow significantly, it will not behave as an aggressive and belligerent military power,” says Mr Mahbubani in his book, Has China Won?: The Chinese Challenge to American Primacy.

On the contrary, India’s long overdue road construction, including the arterial links to the Darbuk- Shyok- Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) road, which China has vigorously opposed by deploying troops and heavy armour, has focused essentially on the security dimension, branding the new connectivity as a belated equaliser to militarily counter China.

Beijing says China and India taking steps to ‘ease’ situation along border

Analysts point out that while India is fully justified in building dual-use roads on its side of the border, New Delhi will be well served in pushing its interests by applying geo-economic and geo-cultural logic of reviving India’s “civilizational links” with China based on trade, commerce and culture, by constructing new border roads and modern economic corridors, which are digitally empowered.

“India has some reservations about the BRI, but even if it does not join this project, how can China object if New Delhi’s road construction in Ladakh is for building a trans-Himalayan economic corridor?” says Mr Stobdan.

Need for summit

In an article in The Kathmandu Post, Professor Mahendra Lama of Jawaharlal Nehru University elaborates about reimagining border roads by calling for a full formal or informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping “to exclusively review why such fracas, intrusions and border imbroglios become a repetitive phenomenon”.

“India started pretty late in building its mountain borderland infrastructure, The borderland roads and other infrastructures in the mountain areas are very critical both in the context of national security, scientific studies and steady migration of its population from these regions,” he observed.

In fact, apart from restoring some strategic balance in Eastern Ladakh, the DSDBO road, now in serious military contention, can become a major artery, for reviving the traditional trade corridor linking Ladakh and Xinjiang through the lofty 18,176 feet Karakoram pass.

Observers say that the DSDBO road, which terminates at the base of the Karakoram pass, can help instil new life in the old Xinjiang route, which had traditionally terminated at Kashgar.

Prior to the construction of the DSDBO road, a motorable road from Leh, Ladakh’s capital, entered the Nubra valley through the 18,600 feet Khardungla pass and headed to the base of Saser Kangri, a mountain complex of six peaks in the Karakoram range.

Thereafter, a track headed to Murgo, linking up with the DSDBO route through Burtsa, Qazilangar, Depsang pass to Daulat Beg Oldie, the gateway to the Karakoram Pass.

“The trade, through the Karakoram, influenced the dress, food and dance forms of Ladakh.

On the other side of the pass, ‘Chini Bagh’ at Kashgar [the residence of the British Joint Commissioner of Trade], “Gurdial Sarai” and “Kashmiri Kucha” [street] at Yarkand, where Indian traders used to stay, still remind us of the magnitude of commerce that took place.

The Bactrian camel [double hump] of Nubra valley is a relic from Xinjiang,” wrote Virendra Sahai Verma in a 2013 article in The Hindu.

For 28 years, Chini-bagh was home to George Macartney, British consul-general in Kashgar.

It hosted famous visitors, including Aurel Stein, Hungarian-born British archaeologist, known for his Central Asia explorations and archaeological discoveries, as well as Count Otani, famous for his expeditions to Buddhist sites in Central Asia .

‘Tibet route’

Besides, new roads in Ladakh can also help revive the “Tibet route”, which passes through Demchok and heads in the direction, 300 km away, of Kailash Mansarovar, an area with a powerful emotional connect with Indian pilgrims.

A geo-cultural approach is also likely to work well with the rapidly evolving Communist Party of China (CPC), under President Xi , which is digging deeply into the country’s civilizational roots of Confucianism and Buddhism.

For instance, at the foot of Mount Ni, the birthplace of Confucius, a vast cultural infrastructure is taking root where local CPC members have been instructed “to make people understand traditional Chinese culture, and ensure that some of its values can percolate into their homes,” a local CPC member had told The Hindu.

China has also been regularly hosting the World Buddhist Forum, drawing thousands of monks and scholars from across the globe.

“Unlike the Soviet Communist Party, it [the CPC] is not riding on an ideological wave; it is riding the wave of a resurgent civilization, and that civilization has proven itself to be one of the strongest and most resilient civilizations in history,” Mr Mahbubani observed.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/comment-reimagining-india-china-border-roads/article31803032.ece

Scroll.in – Even as India stands up to Chinese incursions, New Delhi needs a more nuanced diplomatic approach

With regards to Nepal, India must acknowledge that the ‘special relationship’ no longer exists.

Rohan Venkataramakrishnan

Op/Ed, 02 June 2020. India is currently facing two crises along its northern borders, neither of which have anything to do with Covid-19.

In Ladakh, the Indian Army appears to be involved in a stand-off against Chinese troops at several points along the disputed Line of Actual Control.

At the same time, on Sunday, the Nepal government tabled a Constitution Amendment Bill that would alter the map of the country to include hundreds of kilometres of Indian territory.

The Indian Army Chief suggested that both these issues are connected, an insensitive comment that did not help matters in Kathmandu. Yet, they present two distinct problems for New Delhi to tackle.

Nepal map

On Nepal, the Indian government seems to be stuck in the past.

New Delhi seems miffed by Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s tactic of drumming up nationalistic sentiments within the country as a means of putting pressure on its larger neighbour, even though it is an approach India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is fond of using at home.

India would rather Kathmandu settle this friction through diplomatic talks, paying respect to New Delhi’s role as the dominant power in South Asia.

Yet, as Indian Express’ C Raja Mohan writes, “It makes no sense for Delhi to hanker after a ‘special relationship’ that a large section of Kathmandu does not want.”

The Ministry of External Affairs, which is now making last-minute efforts to prevent the map being approved by Nepal’s Parliament, has struggled to handle Kathmandu over the last few years, as China’s influence has grown.

It would be prudent for New Delhi to acknowledge that discomfort at the very idea of Indian hegemony is a major driver of Nepal politics, one that offers Beijing an opening.

India’s ministry of external affairs must instead push for a reset in engagement based on interests that are common to both sides.

China stand-off

The Chinese issue is more complex, though nearly a month after the initial clashes between the two armies in Ladakh, the Indian government has only offered a limited acknowledgment of how serious the issue really is.

Though it may be wise for New Delhi to avoid coming out strongly against Beijing in public statements, giving both sides the political space to de-escalate from the stand-off, the Indian government cannot ignore the fact that the BJP has built up Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image as being a leader who gives no quarter.

Modi’s party has done little to create the space for a public conversation about the borders that involves anything other than “56-inch rocks” (the purported width of the prime minister’s chest) and “ghar mein ghus ke marenge” (we will come into your house and attack you).

The emergence of a video showing Indian troops challenging Chinese soldiers sparked an alarmed reaction from the Indian Army “We strongly condemn attempts to sensationalise issues impacting national security,” it said in a statement, claiming that any “attempt to link [the video] with the situation on the Northern borders is malafide”.

Chinese social media accounts passed around another photo, showing injured Indian soldiers, some of whom had rope tied around their legs.

Naivety

The authenticity of these leaks may be contested, but their effect, to whip up bellicose sentiment, is uncontested.

Even as it stands firm against Chinese incursions on the Line of Actual Control and India’s right to build infrastructure along the border, New Delhi needs to create the domestic space for a broader set of responses, whether military or diplomatic, without making them seem either as weakness or as a declaration of war.

The government also needs to examine questions around intelligence and operational failures, which some are being compared to Pakistan’s 1999 Kargil intrusions, that led to this situation int the first place.

China’s incursionary actions, even as the world is dealing with a pandemic that Beijing could have done more to contain, are deplorable.

But India’s comments by senior officers like “China stabbed us in the back” seem to betray a naivety about the India-Chinese relationship.

Meanwhile, New Delhi is pushing back against Chinese investments and its Hindutva supporters are pushing for Indians to boycott Chinese goods.

“Unless India is able to find an effective counter-strategy to this pattern of Chinese behaviour,” writes former foreign secretary Shyam Saran, “incidents of the kind we have seen at many points on LAC are not only likely to continue but to intensify.”

https://scroll.in/article/963541/even-as-india-stands-up-to-chinese-incursions-new-delhi-needs-a-more-nuanced-diplomatic-approach

The Hindu – China has moved troops in significant numbers: Rajnath Singh

Important dialogue between senior military leaders on 06 June, he says

Special Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 03 June 2020. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday acknowledged that China had moved troops in “significant numbers” in the ongoing stand-off at the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

There was an important dialogue between the two countries scheduled on 06 June to resolve the issue, he stated.

Separately, sources said a dialogue was held on Tuesday at the Major General level.

“It is true that there have been differences on the border at this time. A significant number of Chinese troops have come in. India too has done what it should,” Mr Singh told CNN News18.

“As of now, negotiations are going on at the military level. On 06 June, there will be talks between senior military officers. I discussed this with the Army Chief today,” he said.

Dialogue between military commanders had been going on daily, sources said, including at the level of Major Generals and on Tuesday too. No concrete resolution had been achieved, it had been learnt and the talks would continue, the sources said.

Mr Singh observed that China should also think seriously in this regard so that the issue was resolved completely.

Referring to the differences in perception between the two countries on the alignment of the LAC, he said there was something constantly going on between India and China regarding the border.

“There will hardly be a year when there is no face-off on the border between both the Indian Army and the Chinese Army,” he said. Sometime there had been such tensions that firearms had been snatched, he noted.

Specifically asked to comment on reports of Chinese troops moving inside Indian territory, he said without getting into specifics, “India will not infringe on anyone’s sovereignty and at the same time India will let not anyone infringe on its sovereignty.”

For close to a month now, Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in stand-offs at several locations along the LAC after Chinese troops moved into Indian territory at Pangong Tso, Galwan Nalah, Hot Springs in eastern Ladakh and Naku La in Sikkim.

Chinese troops have set up tents and brought in equipment inside at some places while also building up presence close to Indian positions on their side of the border.

Mr Singh later said on Twitter quoting the interview that India’s negotiation with China was on and so he “would not like to express doubts.”

“If the issue is resolved through dialogue then what else can be a good thing,” he said and added that the ‘forehead of India’ would not bend under any circumstances.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/china-has-moved-troops-in-significant-numbers-rajnath-singh/article31733197.ece