Monday, May 31, 2010

The Axis Mundi tilting

Will America lead once more?
“Time and again in our Nation’s history, Americans have risen to meet — and to shape — moments of transition. This must be one of those moments. We live in a time of sweeping changes” thus spoke Barak Obama, stressing the strategic choices of the US in the latest National Security Strategy Report.
The President of the United States believes that his country is today: “part of a dynamic international environment, in which different nations are exerting greater influence, and advancing our interests will require expanding spheres of cooperation around the word.” He cites China, India, and Russia as being “critical to building broader cooperation on areas of mutual interest.”
Obama’s conclusion is: “America’s greatness is not assured… in a young century whose trajectory is uncertain, America is ready to lead once more.”
The US President is certainly right in saying that America’s top slot in world leadership is not assured.
The first indication came in Copenhagen. On April 18, some of world's most powerful heads of State had assembled in Copenhagen's Bella Center to work out a solution for the future of the planet.
Most of the top shots were there: Obama, Sarkozy, Merkel, Manmohan Singh, Lula. The meeting was dubbed the ‘mini-summit of the 25’. But there was an anomaly: facing the US President was seated China's deputy foreign minister, He Yafei. His boss, the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had remained in his Hotel room. He had not been ‘properly’ invited, he said.
It took a few months to get a clearer picture as to what happened during the last day of the Climate Change Conference. But it is now clear that the UN climate conference in Copenhagen will go down in history as a turning point. New forces emerged while old were sidelined.
The Spiegel was able to get a recording of the last meeting. According to the German magazine, it reveals “how China and India prevented an agreement on tackling climate change at the crucial meeting. The powerless Europeans were forced to look on as the agreement failed.”
I was in France at the time of the Conference. During the preceding days, the French President was upbeat, explaining on TV and in the newspapers that France and Europe would lead the World towards a better future.
Unfortunately for him, during the final meeting, it did not happen that way: the Chinese Premier was not even present. Sarkozy used strong arguments to present the position of Europe which had pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent, but "in return, China, soon be the biggest economic power in the world, told the world: commitments apply to you, but not to us." Sarkozy shouted, “ce n’est pas acceptable” (it is not acceptable); he even spoke about hypocrisy (from the Chinese side), but this did not change anything.
The Spiegel says: “As if viewed through a magnifying glass, the contours of a new political world order become visible, one shaped by the new self-confidence of the Asians and the powerlessness of the West.”
The next day China convened a last-minute meeting of the BASIC countries (South Africa, Brazil, India and China). Beijing did not want to be alone to carry the blame for the failure of the Conference. The four countries managed to take a common position despite Obama dropping in uninvited at the end of the meeting. The Europeans were nowhere to be seen.
This explains Jairam Ramesh’s recent statement: “following an ambush by the West”, India’s support was ‘absolutely essential’ for China. The Environment Minister added: “The Chinese know, in their heart of hearts, that we saved them from isolation. It is not an exaggeration to say that the top Chinese leadership acknowledges the Copenhagen spirit”.
This, I believe, marked a turning point in the influence of Europe in the World affairs. In the years to come, the slide can only accelerate.
It deteriorated further with the Greek crisis. You must have heard about the PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain).
The rising government deficits and debt levels of these countries triggered a wave of panic on the European (and later world) financial markets. It began in Greece, with serious concerns about the cost of financing the public debt; it then spread across other States of the Euro Zone. Finally, on 2 May 2010, the Eurozone and the IMF had to decide to grant a €110 billion loan to Greece, while Athens had to implement extremely harsh Greek austerity measures (which may in turn trigger a recession). On 9 May 2010, Europe's Finance Ministers approved a package worth nearly a trillion dollars to insure European financial stability. Will it help?
The point is that when Obama says “America’s greatness is not assured”, the European Union and its member-States are also not at all assured of their future role in a changing world.
The situation on the world scene is moving tremendously fast. In April, two important meetings were held in Brazil. Siddharth Vadharajan of The Hindu wrote: “At this week's summits of IBSA and BRIC nations, India and Brazil were the lucky two who had overlapping membership in both forums. But South Africa, which is only part of the former, would very much like BRIC to become BRICS, while China, which is part of the latter — as well as of the climate change ginger group of BASIC with India, Brazil and South Africa — would not be averse to IBSA becoming CHIBSA.”
A senior Indian official accompanying the Prime Minister explained: “What makes BRIC a good fit today is that the four countries have complementary factor endowments and national skills.”
But that is not all. We are witnessing the birth of a new world order. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said that the four countries could collaborate in fields such as nuclear and space technologies, aircraft manufacturing, nanotechnology and other fields.
But more importantly, these strange acronyms represent a challenge to the United States’ domination. And India knows it well, treading carefully with its newly-found partners.
Another example: after Turkey and Brazil announced a deal with Iran which would see Iran send some of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey (a previous IAEA proposal which Tehran had earlier refused), Zhai Dequan wrote in The People’s Daily an article, Iran deserves a break: “The recent tripartite agreement on nuclear-material swapping among Iran, Turkey and Brazil shows that influential countries other than major Western powers have started helping resolve sensitive global issues. Such efforts should be applauded and encouraged.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reacted strongly. Reuters quotes her saying that actions taken by countries like Brazil to help find a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear program have made the world more dangerous. She affirmed: "We think buying time for Iran, enabling Iran to avoid international unity with respect to their nuclear program, makes the world more dangerous not less."
Without entering into the merits of the deal, it becomes more and more obvious that we are no longer living in a unilateral world and new players, the so-called emerging countries have come to have a say in world affairs.
A small, though significant news items demonstrates the way the new world players try to sideline America. On 13 May, Novosti, the Russian state-owned news agency, quoted the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov: “Russia is ready to help settle the conflict between China and the Tibetan spiritual leader, Dalai Lama.”
During a speech in the Federation Council, Russia’s Upper House of Parliament, Lavrov affirmed: “We are following carefully what is happening between the leadership of China and the Dalai Lama and we know that the Chinese leadership is deeply committed to the Dalai Lama dissociating himself from any kind of political activity and separatist tendencies in regard to one or another territory in China.”
According to Lavrov: “If all the parties make attempts to separate clearly pastoral contacts from political associations, this would be a solution to the problem. We are ready to assist in this.”
Clearly, the move was triggered by the visit of President Hu Jintao to Moscow a week earlier.
During his stay, Hu called upon Russia and China to consolidate their strategic partnership and promote ‘multipolarity’ in the international system as well as ‘democratization of international relations’. In other words, the United States cannot continue to rule the world unilaterally.
Moreover, Hu spoke of China’s ‘new security concept’. For Beijing, this means “to rise above one-sided security and seek common security through mutually beneficial cooperation … and promote the democratization of the international relations.” The surprising announcement about Tibet was clearly in line with Beijing’s new policies who feels Washington is interfering in its dealing with the Dalai Lama.
When asked about Lavrov’s declaration, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu stated: “as China's strategic partner, Russia has always firmly supported China's positions and principles on Tibet-related issues. China has highly praised Russia's position.”
For Beijing, it was a way to show its unhappiness with the US before the visit of Hilary Clinton who was scheduled to reprimand China about human rights and Tibet. To ask Moscow to be the intermediary is one way to pull the carpet out from under Washington’s feet.
The Axis Mundi is undoubtedly slowly tilting towards the East.
“We live in a time of sweeping changes”, rightly said Obama.

No Airport for Tawang

The Chinese believe in the concept of dual-use for infrastructure facilities in the border areas (and elsewhere).  
Take this this airport in Tibet, it is much closer to the border (McMahon Line) than Tawang airport would have been. It is used every year by several lakhs of tourists visiting Nyingtri area and the gorges of the Brahmaputra. It does not pose a problem for the PLA or the defense authorities in Tibet. In case of conflict, it would be used for military purpose. Why can't for once India take a leaf out of China?
I know, the objection from Delhi will be: in case of an invasion, the Chinese can use our facilities, therefore it is better to have no facilities. 
Is not this argument a bit out-fashioned?

Govt abandons Tawang airport plan
The Asian Age
May 30th, 2010
Sridhar Kumaraswami
The state-run Airports Authority of India (AAI) has abandoned its plans to build a civilian greenfield airport at Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh after the Union government felt it would be too close to the Sino-Indian border.
“AAI will not construct an airport at Tawang. The government has made it clear that it would be too close to the Chinese border,” top government aviation sources confirmed to this newspaper. “As per the rules, no civilian airport should be built in the area which is less than 70 km from the Sino-Indian border. Tawang fell in that range. So, the Union government felt it was not advisable,” they said.
Two years ago, AAI had conducted a detailed feasibility study for the construction of an airport at Tawang. “It was found that the construction of an airport there was feasible. It would have been a viable proposition as it is a popular tourist destination,” sources said. However, it is going ahead with its move to construct another greenfield civilian airport at Itanagar, the state capital.
Tawang has often proven to be a flashpoint in Sino-Indian relations. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had overrun Tawang in the 1962 border war with India but withdrew after the military victory over India. China covets 90,000 sq. km of Arunachal Pradesh, including Tawang, and does not recognise it as Indian territory. In fact, China refers to Arunachal as “south Tibet” and covets Tawang since the Buddhist monastery at Tawang historically paid tribute to Tibet for centuries. China has also protested in recent times over the visits of Union government leaders to Arunachal.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Malaise in the Middle Kingdom

This 'malaise' is quite worrying. It shows China's social instability.  The author says that the Wei-wen (“uphold stability”) expenditures this year are $75.26 billion. It is a lot of money, for little result.
Yesterday, The Economic Times reported "Strike cripples Honda in China, shuts down all plants". It explained that "China's burgeoning automobile industry suffered a jolt as Honda, the second largest car manufacturer in the country, shut down all its four assembly plants after workers went on strike demanding better wages.
The strike set off alarm bells among scores of foreign firms whose investments are the driving force for China's rapid growth, as it is the largest industrial action in modern China ever since it began opening up its economy in a big way in the 1980s.
Strikes are anathema in China, as it transformed itself from a socialist system of the past to a capitalist economy, with the ruling Communist Party retaining a tight control on the government and the armed forces."

A day earlier, Reuters mentioned a "spate of nine employee deaths at global contract electronics manufacturer Foxconn, Apple’s main supplier of iPhones, has cast a spotlight on some of the harsher aspects of blue-collar life on the Chinese factory floor."
The malaise is deep indeed. 

Rising Social Malaise Beggars Hu's Reforms
China Brief Volume: 10 Issue: 11
May 27, 2010
Willy Lam
Beijing authorities have raised the country’s security alert to the highest level—the first time since the August 2008 Olympics Games—in the wake of a spate of killings in schools and kindergartens that left at least 27 dead and some 100 injured. Given the resources that the Ministry of Public Security (MPS), the Education Ministry and other administrative units have invested into promoting safety in school districts, it is probable that these heinous crimes will diminish over time. Yet, disturbing questions are being asked about the authorities’ handling of the brutal incidents. The issues range from severe restrictions on media coverage to the efficacy of China’s apparently seamless state-security apparatus. More significantly, the mishaps seem to demonstrate that even as socio-political contradictions are being exacerbated, members of disadvantaged classes have been denied avenues to vent their frustration, let alone have their injustice redressed.
According to official press reports, seven major incidents took place from March 23 to May 19 in kindergartens, schools and at least one college in the provinces of Fujian, Guangxi, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shandong and Hainan (Reuters, May 20; Wen Wei Po [Hong Kong], May 20). Yet, according to the Hong Kong media, a few dozen smaller cases have gone unreported. Almost immediately after eight school kids were hacked to death in Nanping District in coastal Fujian Province in late March, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Propaganda Department asked all news outlets to tone down coverage of the slayings. A number of incidents in which the attackers were subdued before any fatal harm was done were not publicized. There were at least seven such instances in Beijing alone (Ming Pao [Hong Kong], May 13; Apple Daily [Hong Kong], May 18).
Moreover, relevant authorities have released very sketchy information about the felons. The killer in Fujian was said to have been mentally deranged due to unemployment and a broken love affair. The Jiangsu government’s response to the April 29 kindergarten mayhem in the city of Taixing, in which 31 children and teachers suffered injuries, caused the most ferocious uproar. Ten thousand residents protested outside the municipal government a day later because many parents were not allowed to visit their hospitalized kids. Most intriguingly, the culprit, Xu Yuyuan, was sentenced to death barely 16 days after his crime. His motivations were said to include frustration due to the failure of a small direct-selling business and “unjust dismissal” from an earlier job (Ming Pao, May 1; China News Service, May 15; Wen Wei Po, May 16).
Also called into question is the effectiveness of China’s much-ballyhooed security establishment. Since 2008—the year of the Olympics and the Tibet riots—the leadership under President Hu Jintao has devoted unprecedented resources to hiring more police, state-security agents, anti-terrorist experts and para-military People’s Armed Police (PAP). Several million volunteers have been recruited as vigilantes nationwide. Wei-wen (“uphold stability”) expenditures this year are set at 514 billion yuan ($75.26 billion), which is close to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) budget of 542 billion yuan ($79.36 billion) (Ming Pao, March 6; Southern Weekend [Guangzhou], March 3). Yet, the apparently random acts of several individuals have plunged what could be the world’s most redoubtable police network into disarray.
After the first couple of incidents, President Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao issued orders that all government units “take immediate steps to prevent the recurrence [of similar cases] and to safeguard social harmony and stability.” Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC) member in charge of security Zhou Yongkang told a televised conference of the nation’s top police, prosecutors and judges that ensuring safety in schools had become “a major political task.” State Councilor and Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu vowed that the police would construct a “wall of steel” to ensure a safe environment for schoolchildren everywhere. The media also reported that emergency security measures had reached guojia gaodu, or the “highest level of state” (Beijing Evening Post, May 5; Public Security Net, May 13; China News Service, May 15). Many cities have implemented a “one police in every school” policy. The capital city has mobilized 20,000 additional officers for this purpose. Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai, who gained worldwide fame for cracking down on triads, has stationed 6,300 security personnel in the city’s schools. A government spokesman in remote Tibet indicated that “we will make sure that a police officer can be seen in every school so that the hearts of parents, teachers and pupils will be put at ease.” Law-enforcement personnel have also been instructed to shoot to kill when handling what the party leadership calls “urban terrorist incidents involving [disgruntled] individuals” (Nanfang Daily [Guangzhou], May 14; China News Service, May 13; New Beijing Post, May 6).
Yet this high degree of nervousness has also betrayed chinks in the police apparatus's armor. In late April, the MPS dispatched 18 investigation teams around the country to check out loopholes and to tighten the security net. Moreover, PBSC member Zhou issued a nationwide directive asking local leaders in all cities, counties and villages to “be personally responsible” for safety in schools and campuses. “Top party and government cadres have to bear overall [political] responsibility while leaders with specific responsibility [for security] must take care of the concrete details,” said Zhou (China News Service, May 14; Xinhua News Agency, May 3). As in the case of law-and-order lapses in Tibet and Xinjiang in recent years, police and state-security officials seem to be passively reacting to events instead of pre-empting them.
It is also clear that there are limits as to what security personnel can do to prevent society’s desperadoes from taking out their frustration on innocent victims. Premier Wen Jiabao admitted that “deep-seated reasons” lay behind the chilling slayings. He indicated that apart from boosting patrols and other law-enforcement measures, different departments must “tackle a certain number of social contradictions, defuse conflicts and beef up reconciliation [mechanisms] at the grassroots.” MPS spokesman Wu Heping also acknowledged that the serial attacks on school kids were symptomatic of socio-economic malaise. “Some contradictions have not been resolved in good time,” he said. “These contradictions have been exacerbated. Civil conflicts have morphed into criminal cases, while criminal cases of a general nature have worsened into atrocious ones, including using extremist measures to retaliate against society” (Guangzhou Daily [Guangzhou], May 14; Reuters, May 13).
What are these “deep-seated contradictions”? Beijing-based sociologist Tang Jun said the killers had picked on children because “this will have the largest negative impact on society.” He continued, “The attackers did not know their victims personally, so the assaults must be an expression of their dissatisfaction with society”. Hu Xingdou, a well-known social critic at the Beijing University of Science and Technology, said the horrendous crimes reflected “the sense of hopelessness” among lower-class citizens “whose rights of petitioning [the authorities] and judicial redress have been denied.” “These attackers know they can’t [sic] reach the powers-that-be that ride roughshod over them—so [they] take retaliation [against society] by picking on defenseless kids.” Professor Hu expressed fear that as the rich-poor gap yawned wider, such actions might become more frequent (The Globe and Mail [Toronto], May 12; Ta Kung Pao [Hong Kong], May 13).
There are signs that the Hu-led Politburo has become more aware of the time bomb ticking away. In his Government Work Report to the National People’s Congress (NPC) last March, Premier Wen pledged that “the [economic] pie will be divvied up in a more equitable fashion.” He also pledged to ensure that all Chinese “can live with dignity.” President Hu indicated in his May Day address that workers should be able to engage in tianmian laodong, or “dignified work.” Some solid steps have been taken to help those Chinese who have trouble eking out a living (Xinhua News Agency, March 5; China News Service, May 2). For example, the minimum wages of more than a dozen provinces and directly administered cities have been raised since the spring by up to 10 percent. Minimum monthly wage levels in Shanghai, Guangdong and Zhejiang have breached the 1,000 yuan ($146.4) mark (CCTV Net, May 15; Xinhua News Agency, May 16). There is no denying, however, that socio-economic polarization is becoming more severe. Just-released figures showed that in the past 22 years, the wages of Chinese workers as a percentage of GDP had slipped by 20 percent. Another set of statistics indicated that the richest one percent of families held 41.4 percent of national wealth, making China one of the worst countries in terms of discrepancies between haves and have-nots (China Youth Daily, May 13; Xinhua News Agency, May 13; China News Service, May 21).
Moreover, channels for members of disadvantaged sectors to air their grievances have become less accessible. For example, regional and grassroots administrations have taken draconian steps to prevent apparent victims of social injustices from taking their petitions to top-level party and government departments in Beijing. In light of the politicization of the courts, citizens are not optimistic about seeking redresses through the judicial system (See “The CCP strengthens control over the judiciary,” China Brief, July 3, 2008). Apart from the killing spree in schools and kindergartens, social harmony has been disrupted by a plethora of labor incidents. Foremost among them is the serial suicides this year of 11 workers in the Shenzhen plant of Taiwan-owned Foxconn Technology Group, one of world’s largest manufacturers of consumer electronics. In addition, the suicide attempts of at least 20 other employees in the same factory have been foiled. Beijing officials have pinned the blame on the inadequate management style of Taiwanese business executives. In fact, however, frustration among laborers over issues such as exploitative working conditions and the ban on the formation of non-official trade unions has been on the rise nationwide (Financial Times, May 24; China Daily, May 17; Bloomberg, May 17).
Beijing’s outdated and undemocratic institutions—which underpin the unjust social order—have adversely affected the nation’s quest for quasi-superpower status. According to a report on international competitiveness compiled by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China ranks last among the G20 countries in the area of “social management,” which includes law enforcement and law and order. The country’s rankings in “social system” and “public [administration] system” are respectively 13th and 14th among the 20 states (Ming Pao, April 27; [Beijing], April 27). It is understood that in the run-up to the pivotal 18th CCP Congress in 2012, the Hu leadership is reluctant to experiment with potentially destabilizing political and institutional reforms. This stubborn refusal to tinker with the status quo, however, carries huge social costs and risks that could undermine the country’s long-term modernization goal.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Tibet and Vatical open archives. What about India?

China has decided to publish parts of the archives stolen in Tibet at the time of the invasion.
It is a good move, though politically motivated. It will certainly remain very selective. But it is a beginning.
The Vatican also will soon open its famous Archives. The Telegraph says: "The Vatican opens its Secret Archives to dispel Dan Brown myths".
What about the Nehru Papers kept in the vaults of the Nehru Memorial Library. Probably, they are more 'sensitive' than the Popes' secrets.

China ‘proves’ right to rule Tibet with new compilation
May 28, 2010
In yet another effort to “prove” its right to rule Tibet, China on May 25 brought out a major new publication, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency May 25. The China Tibetology Publishing House released on that day a ten-volume compilation of Tibet's historical archives of the Republic of China period (1912-1949), providing what it called “a rich record of the southwestern region as a then administrative division of the country.”
The report said the compilation, titled "Archives Compilation of Tibet and Tibetan Affairs Preserved by the Second Historical Archives of China," gives a record of what it called the central government's policies on Tibet from 1912 to 1949 and measures taken to manage major events and issues in the region.
The report said the compilation is only the first part of a 50-volume series and includes documents that reflect the development of politics, economy, religion, culture and education in other Tibetan areas incorporated into the neighboring provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan.
The report said the publication has been a key project jointly undertaken since Nov’06 by the China Tibetology Research Center and the Second Historical Archives of China (SHAC).
The Dalai Lama maintains that the historical fact of Tibet being an independent country could not be erased. However, he remains willing to accept Chinese rule in exchange for genuine autonomy and respect for human rights in Tibet.

Dalai Lama and the Russian Card

My article Dalai Lama and the Russian Card appeared in The Statesman. Click here to read.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Is history always doctored?

While the Indian media covered extensively the history of the Kargil conflict and the 'doctored report' of the battle of Batalik, a more serious issue has receieved little coverage.
Lt General JFR Jacob, Chief of Staff (Eastern Command) during the 1971 India Pakistan War explained to why the Indian Navy has destroyed documents related to the sinking of Ghazi, the Pakistani submarine. 
Read General Jacob's version of the facts and compare with the official history of the 1971 War published by the Ministry of Defense, posted on my website. The Navy falsified the date and the circumstances of the sinking of the submarine for a few medals more. It is deeply shocking!

Kargil war: Lt-Gen doctored reports
TNN, May 28, 2010,
NEW DELHI: Against all odds, courageous young officers and soldiers dislodged well-entrenched Pakistani intruders from the Kargil heights in 1999. But skeletons about the then top military leadership's dubious conduct during the conflict continue to tumble out of the cupboard with alarming regularity even now.
In the latest such episode, the armed forces tribunal (AFT) has indicted the then 15 Corps commander Lt-General Kishan Pal for doctoring "battle-performance and after-action reports'' to belittle the achievements of the then Batalik-based 70 Infantry Brigade commander Devinder Singh.
Directing the directorate of military operations to rewrite some portions of the official history, "Operation Vijay: Account of the War in Kargil'', the AFT headed by Justice A K Mathur said Lt-Gen Pal's biased assessment of Brig Singh should be expunged from the records.
"I feel vindicated. As per the order, I will also be considered for promotion to the notional rank of a major-general and the records about the operations by my brigade in the war will be set straight,'' said Brig (retd) Singh, who has fought a long and hard legal battle to restore his honour.
Lt-Gen Pal, who had infamously described the massive Kargil intrusions by Pakistani Army regulars as a "local'' skirmish with a handful of infiltrators in the initial days, went on to get a gallantry medal after the conflict.
Similarly, several other senior officers were rewarded despite ignoring early warnings about the massive intrusions, wrong assessments and flawed leadership during the conflict which led to the death of 527 Indian soldiers.
In sharp contrast, Brig Singh -- who had even predicted the pattern of intrusions by the Pakistani Army regulars before the conflict and later got injured during the operations -- was left high and dry, without a war medal and passed over for promotion.
"Many lives would have been saved if my assessment had been taken seriously,'' said Brig Singh, who directed his brigade troops during the critical assaults on Point 5203 and the Jubar Complex in the Batalik sector.
The then Army chief General V P Malik, who himself attracted flak for not cutting short his "goodwill'' visit abroad during the initial days of the Kargil intrusions, on his part, said Brig Singh's case was "an aberration'' which was now rightly getting corrected.
"I believe the issue was at the level of the brigade, division and corps. To pass a judgment on the entire Indian Army and to suggest the entire war history was fudged is most unfair,'' Gen (retd) Malik told journalists.
The fact, however, remains that the AFT judgment has come as a major embarrassment to the Army. It might get worse in the coming days because several other petitions connected to the Kargil conflict are pending in different AFT benches.
These include ones by officers -- like the then 121 Brigade commander Surinder Singh, who was dismissed during the operations, and Major Manish Bhatnagar -- who feel they were made "scapegoats'' to "save the skin of top generals''.
The Army, on its part, on Thursday said it was awaiting a copy of the AFT judgment in Brig Singh's case. "Once we get it, it will be analysed and appropriate action would be taken,'' said a senior officer.
Brig Singh certainly hopes so. He had filed a complaint with Army HQs in 2000 itself, charging Lt-Gen Pal with bias, but it was rejected two years later. In 2004, the defence ministry struck down Lt-Gen Pal's assessment of Brig Singh's battle performance but refused to strike down key sections of his annual confidential reports written by the general.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Chinese spies in Arunachal

A few days ago, Mid-Day reported  that several Chinese spies had entered in Arunachal Pradesh. These spies get an employment visa to work on a hydropower project in Sikkim and then sneak through Assam and Arunachal. It is a very serious matter.
Already in 1962, the Chinese intelligence had got many local Monpas on their side. It explains that the PLA was able to build a road in less than 3 weeks. India should wake up. 
And Mr Jairam Ramesh wants to give the contract for hydropower plants to Chinese companies!!!!

Espionage scare in Arunachal 
The Telegraph
Itanagar, May 25: Spies, masquerading as research scholars, social workers and tourists, are lurking in the hills of Arunachal Pradesh — a fact that was reinforced by the arrest of a suspected Chinese spy in Lohit district on May 18.
“Donning the garb of environmentalists, researchers, social workers often helps them escape the prying eyes of security agencies to carry out espionage activities,” a highly placed source in the security establishment told The Telegraph.
“The arrest of a Chinese national, Guan Liang, 28, from Digaru village of Lohit district last week can open Pandora’s Box, exposing startling facts to add to the discomfiture of security officials. It can be the tip of the iceberg and an eye-opener,” the security official said.
Guan, who admitted to have sneaked into Indian territory through Kibithu, one of the most difficult mountainous paths, indicated in a subsequent interrogation his “espionage” attempts.
Arunachal Pradesh home commissioner, T. Taloh, did not directly deny such instances but said the ministry of home affairs is the ultimate authority to curb movement of suspected persons.
“There may be some instances but I am not authorised to comment on that,” Taloh said today.
The incident may have been a wake-up call for the Centre, but Arunachal Pradesh, which shares a 1,080-km-long border with China, 440km with Myanmar and 160km with Bhutan, is not new to such attempts at espionage.
Another Chinese man was arrested on suspicion of being a spy from Namsai in Lohit in 1999, a police official said.
“Many of them (spies) were debarred from entering India after the ministry of home affairs gathered sufficient proof to establish them as spies,” the official, who did not wish to be quoted, said.
There are instances of “espionage” activities by Americans, British and Tibetans in the state. Lynn Roberts, a US national, who worked as a member of the Inner Asia Conservation, a US-based NGO, came to Itanagar in 1998 for the first time.
Suspected to be a “spy” working for the US, he left Arunachal Pradesh after being chased by sleuths. He was blacklisted by the ministry of home affairs and was debarred from entering the country. But the man then assumed a new name, John Miceler, masqueraded as a researcher and again visited the state in 2005, before being blacklisted again.
In a span of seven years, he visited the state five times after entering Arunachal Pradesh for the first time in 1998 on a tourist visa. But soon he was found guilty of flouting visa norms.
Christopher Roy Jenkins, a Briton, who arrived in Itanagar on the invitation of the Botanical Survey of India in March 2008 to deliver lectures at seminar as a botanist, was also debarred from entering the country in March 2009 after the sleuths found him guilty by tracking his activities.
A Tibetan, Tenzing Kalsang, who worked with Man-Tse-Khang, an astrological and medicinal institute at Itanagar, was blacklisted in 2006 after the officials found his stay “objectionable” from the security point of view.
There was also a report of arrest of a Chinese “spy” from Tawang during the visit of Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, last year. The security agencies, however, remained tightlipped about it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

China plans for dams in Arunachal Pradesh

I have highlighted  the 38,000 MgW hydropower project on the Great Bend of the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra). This map in available on a Chinese website. To see the entire map, click here.
Please note that the Chinese are planning for dams in Arunachal Pradesh!!

China's dams on the Brahmaputra

For many months the fact that China was building a dam in Zangmu was known and photographs were circulating on the Internet. Why did India take up the matter with China so warily? Claude Arpi on the dangers of China's dams on the Brahmaputra in Tibet.
Click here to read my article in

Dam on the Brahmaputra again

When some seven years ago, I began writing on the dam(s) on the Brahmaputra, I was told that it was cheap journalism. I was just interested in a scoop. Unfortunately, slowly but surely, the Chinese mega project is taking shape.
India's main problem is the 'experts' in India affirming that 'the Chinese will never do this'. 
Another objection was this Great Bend is too remote, it is impossible to reach there. A few years down the line, a four-way lane is reaching Nyingtri (Chinese: Nyingchi) the Prefecture headquarter. An airport has been contrcuted nearby. 
The 'experts' will continue to say 'The Chinese will never do this'.
My posting of yesterday explains why they HAVE to do it.

Chinese engineers propose world's biggest hydro-electric project in Tibet
Mega-dam on Yarlung Tsangpo river would save 200m tonnes of CO2 but could spark conflict over downstream water supply
Jonathan Watts, Asia environment correspondent,
Monday 24 May 2010
China plans dams in Tibet along the Yarlung Zangbo River : Zangmu hydroelectric project
River on the roof of the world ... the Yarlung Tsangpo/Brahmaputra river. Photograph: Imaginechina
Chinese hydropower lobbyists are calling for construction of the world's biggest hydro-electric project on the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra river as part of a huge expansion of renewable power in the Himalayas.
Zhang Boting, the deputy general secretary of the China Society for Hydropower Engineering, told the Guardian that a massive dam on the great bend of the Yarlung Tsangpo - the Tibetan name for the river - would benefit the world, despite the likely concerns of downstream nations, India and Bangladesh, which access water and power from the river.
Zhang said research had been carried out on the project, but no plan has been drawn up. But documents on the website of a government agency suggest a 38 gigawatt hydropower plant is under consideration that would be more than half as big again as the Three Gorges dam, with a capacity nearly half as large as the UK's national grid.
"This dam could save 200m tonnes of carbon each year. We should not waste the opportunity of the biggest carbon emission reduction project. For the sake of the entire world, all the water resources than can be developed should be developed." That CO2 saving would be over a third of the UK's entire emissions.
The mega-facility is among more than 28 dams on the river that are either planned, completed or under discussion by China, according to Tashi Tsering, a Tibetan scholar of environmental policy at the University of British Columbia.
Tsering publishes a map today of all of the projects that have been reported by Chinese newspapers and hydro-engineering websites.
From this, he concludes that the Tsangpo-Brahmaputra – until recently considered the last great undammed river in Tibet – will be the next focus of government efforts to increase the nation's power supply. One of them is a map of planned dams showing a 38-gigawatt hydro-plant at Motuo on the website of Hydro China, an influential government enterprise responsible for dam construction. A separate State Grid map of future transmission lines indicates the remote area will soon be connected to the rest of China's power supply. Hydro China and State Grid declined requests for clarification.
The government has not confirmed the existence of the scheme, but Tsering cites several newspaper reports of survey teams exploring the area and provides links to other online documents that indicate preparations for large-scale hydro-development of the area.
Given the huge expense, technical difficulties and political sensitivities of the scheme, it is far from certain of final approval by the government. But several Chinese hydroengineers see it as the ultimate goal in an accelerating race with India to develop water resources in one of the planet's last remote regions.
Tapping the power of the river as it bends and plunges from the Himalayan roof of the world down towards the Indian and Bangladeshi flood plains has long been a dream of the world's hydro-engineers.
Along with the Congo river at the Inga falls, this is considered one of the two greatest concentrations of river energy on earth, but it was long thought impossible to access because of the rugged, high-altitude terrain and the risk of water-related conflict with neighbouring countries.
But China has overcome many engineering obstacles with the construction of the railway to Tibet, and its growing energy demands are spurring exploration of ever more remote areas.
"Tibet's resources will be converted into economic advantage," Yan Zhiyong, the general manager of China Hydropower Engineering Consulting Group, told China Energy News earlier this year. "The major technical constraints on damming the Yarlung Tsampo have been overcome." He declined the Guardian's request for an interview, saying the subject was too sensitive.
The exploitation of the Brahmaputra is already under way. China recently announced plans to build five dams further upstream, including a 500MW hydroplant at Zangmu, which is under construction by the power utility Huaneng.
According to Tsering, the biggest of them will be a huge plant at the great bend – either at Metog, known as Motuo in Chinese, or at Daduqia. The former would involve the construction of a series of tunnels, pipes, reservoirs and turbines to exploit the spectacular 2,000-metre fall of the river as it curls down towards India.
Although there has been no official confirmation of plans for a dam, the discussion is far from secret. On a prominent Chinese science forum, Zhang said a dam on the great bend was the ultimate hope for water resource exploitation because it could generate energy equivalent to 100m tonnes of crude coal, or all the oil and gas in the South China sea.
He warned that a delay would allow India to tap these resources and prompt "major conflict" in a region where the two nations have sporadically clashed over disputed territory.
"We should build a hydropower plant in Motuo ... as soon as possible because it is a great policy to protect our territory from Indian invasion and to increase China's capacity for carbon reduction," he wrote last year
Any step forward is likely to be controversial. Tibetans consider Metog a sacred region, and environmental activists warn against building such a huge project in a seismically active and ecologically fragile area.
"A large dam on the Tibetan plateau would amount to a major, irreversible experiment with geo-engineering," said Peter Bosshard of International Rivers. "Blocking the Yarlung Tsangpo could devastate the fragile ecosystem of the Tibetan plateau, and would withhold the river's sediments from the fertile floodplains of Assam in north-east India, and Bangladesh."
China's construction of dams also raises the prospect of a race with India to develop hydropower along south Asia's most important river.
"India needs to be more aggressive in pushing ahead hydro projects (on the Brahmaputra)," Jairam Ramesh, the Indian environment minister, told the Guardian during a recent visit to Beijing. "That would put us in better negotiating position (with China).
To minimise the risk of water-related conflict, the two nations have agreed to share information about hydro-plans on the Tsangpo-Brahmaputra.
Indian media have raised concerns that Beijing may ultimately embark on a gigantic diversion scheme that would channel water away from India to the dry northern plains of China, but such fears are dismissed by Tsering, who says the dam at Metog would be for hydropower, not water diversion. "The laws of physics will not allow water diversion from the Great Bend."

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Waters of the Third Pole

This report The Waters of the Third Pole prepared by Aon Benfi eld UCL (Hazard Research Centre, University College London), China Dialogue, Humanitarian Futures Programme (King’s College London) has an interesting annexe. 
It says: "The following stories are not necessarily intended to approximate reality, but this approach can be used to challenge conventional thinking and to enable policy- and decision-makers to think ‘out of the box’."
Is this scenario so improbable? 

China’s water, 2020–2025: scarcity, pollution and conflict
Over the past decade, the Chinese government has failed to address underlying structural issues in domestic water allocation, develop adequate systems of water pricing and rights, curb waste or allow water trading. Instead, government response has been to rely on water-transfer projects and to limit water allocations to provinces, rather than to promote conservation through regulatory or market mechanisms. By 2020, unregulated economic activity and over-exploitation of limited or contaminated water sources had combined to push China’s water crisis into catastrophic proportions.
Groundwater tables under the northern plain have dried up, or at least sunk so deep that farmers are unable to extract the remaining water. Continued erratic rainfall and rising temperatures have rendered the Yellow River and its major tributaries seasonal resources. The Shiyang River in Gansu has completely disappeared. The oases of the northern plains are particularly reliant on glacier meltwater, and many, like that of Minqin County, have been completely evacuated. The early 2020s saw the water availability per person in the Hai, Huai, and Yellow (Huang) river basins fall well below 500m3/year, less than the minimum for human existence. In this former breadbasket, desertification continues to overwhelm arable land. Dwindling glaciers have caused the Gobi desert to encroach further upon the oases in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Desertification now affects 600 million people, nearly half the country’s population.
Policies of state-directed environmental migration have now relocated 3 million farmers and nomadic herders in Qinghai, Ningxia and Gansu to Xingjiang and Inner Mongolia. This is having enormous environmental and social repercussions since these now-arid destinations themselves are unable to provide adequate support for increasing populations and there is not enough arable land for migrants to sustain new livelihoods. Ethnic tensions have been escalating in China’s western hinterlands, with increasing violence. These incidents culminated in a series of savage riots that spread from Hohot, Lhasa and Urumqi throughout urban centres in the region in June 2020.
Conflict driven by water stress
As the summer of 2020 progressed, severe droughts, worse even than in 2019, threatened to drive the 200 million inhabitants of the North China plain into potential starvation, and the army is enforcing water rationing in the overrun cities of Beijing and Tianjin. In the run-up to the National People’s Congress in October 2020, the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced the launch of the construction of the western section of the South–North Water Transfer Project (SNWTP), aimed at increasing crop production in the Gobi desert and easing over-crowding in the east. In an attempt to gain popular support as the national water crisis accelerated, the Chinese leaders disregarded international agreements and abandoned any effort to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment – despite the serious pollution associated with construction of the central section of the project.
India–China relations have been at an all-time low since the completion of the 40,000MW dam at the ‘Great Bend’ of the Tsangpo-Brahmaputra River in 2019, harnessing the power of the deepest canyon in the world. This far exceeds the scale of projects such as the Three Gorges Dam, and the Indians claim that maximum river flow has already been reduced by 20%, while the Chinese refute such accusations. On 1 October 2025, Chinese National Day, Chandra Singh, the Indian President announced that, unless China discontinued water-transfer plans, India would make an official declaration of war. In the first weeks of October, India deployed an extra 60,000 troops in the border area and strengthened air defence in Ladakh. Seemingly, uncontrolled skirmishes broke out between troops on the border, resulting in casualties on both sides. Chinese internal conflicts over water allocation and pollution were so widespread that the threat to national security provided a useful focus for the government as it aimed to encourage patriotic unity against a common enemy.
Chinese troops were deployed to quell rising dissent within Tibet about environmental damage caused by mega-infrastructure projects. Chinese nuclear missile deployment in Haiyun and Da Qaidam in Qinghai province was confirmed, but the international community remained powerless. No bilateral agreement was ever reached between India and China after the memorandum of agreement to share hydrology data in 2002 degenerated into a means for China to exhort payment from India in return for often-dubious information. Attempts by NGOs to establish an international dialogue and roadmap towards a ‘benefit-sharing’ agreement have failed, and the international community can only watch and wait.
In the face of these Chinese actions, India has pursued its own grand plans. By 2019 a canal had been constructed to move water from the upper parts of the Ganges, Yamuna and Brahmaputra Rivers westward, ending in the Luni and Sabarmati Rivers in Rajasthan and Gujarat. This diverts water away from the Ganges, a few kilometres from the India–Bangladesh border. The immense levels of construction along the river severely affected the flow of water downstream in Bangladesh. Stagnant reservoirs have led to high levels of toxic algae and bacteria that Bangladesh claims are now poisoning hundreds of thousands of people.
Destruction of ecosystems and livelihoods
In order to complete the western water-transfer route, China has also diverted water from the Lancang (Upper Mekong) River, and a series of 15 cascading dams has been completed. The 292-metre Xiaowan dam is now the world’s tallest, as high as the Eiffel Tower. The reservoir behind the dam has grown to 102 miles long. At the same time Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia have all been pursuing their equally destructive dam projects, violating international standards concerning both environmental and social issues. The Mekong River Commission dissolved in 2015, after failing to play any role in regional facilitation or to prevent dangerous dam-construction projects.
Dramatic changes to the river’s unique cycle of flood and drought – the annual flood pulse – have wrecked the delicate ecosystem of the region. In the waters of the Mekong that used to sustain the world’s second-largest inland fishery, most fish species are now threatened with extinction and the 60 million people who use the river as a source of food or livelihood are struggling for survival. Cambodia’s great central lake, Tonle Sap, the nursery of the lower Mekong’s fish stocks, used to fill up in monsoon season with a fifth of the Mekong’s waters. In 2025 it has become barely seasonal, and the loss of livelihood pushes another 15% of Cambodians below the poverty line and endangers many more.
On 7 September 2030, severe monsoon floods deluged 1.4 million hectares of land in the Mekong Delta, affecting 14.2 million people in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The Vietnamese government’s ‘living with floods’ programme of the 2010s, to resettle people living in vulnerable zones, has failed due to lack of funding. Thus 5.3 million people in An Giang, Dong Thap and Tien Giang provinces have been driven out of the Mekong and the Red River Deltas. Climate refugees have swelled the population of Ho Chi Minh City, and Cambodia attempted to shut its borders in panic.
As regional dialogue reached a deadlock over dam building, there are no regional mechanisms in place to cope with a humanitarian disaster of this massive scale. Moreover, hugely expensive construction of dams and reinforcement of thousands of miles of dikes built after the Commission collapsed in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam will exacerbate the disaster in its aftermath. Barriers inhibit the self-cleansing mechanism of rivers and trap millions of cubic yards of industrial waste, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of industrial rubbish, and millions of tonnes of pesticides and fertiliser from fish and shrimp farms. The livelihoods and lives of the approximately 30 million inhabitants of the Mekong Delta are under long-term threat.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A move from Beijing through Moscow

It is clear from this article of the People's Daily that the move to offer Moscow's services for mediating between Dharamsala and Beijing has been made in consultation with Beijing.
The trick is that if the Dalai Lama accepts, he will have to even renounce 'genuine autonomy' for Tibet. No politics, says Lavrov.
And Beijing "has highly praised Russia's position", says the People's Daily.

Russian Foreign Minister calls Dalai Lama symbol of 'Tibet independence'
The People's Daily online
May 21, 2010 
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held two discussions during the recent week on Russia's position on the Dalai Lama issue, noting that Russia is opposed to linking religious issues with politics, according to a report by the Global Times on May 21.
The foreign minister held the talks because there has been some domestic controversy on whether Russia should contact the Dalai Lama after the Russian Foreign Ministry refused a visit application from the Dalai Lama to its Republic of Kalmykia.
Lavrov said the Dalai Lama has always attempted to take advantage of his religious role to meet goals that have nothing to do with religion. In the eyes of numerous foreigners, the Dalai Lama has become a symbol of the "Tibet independence."
In response to Lavrov's remarks, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu said on May 20 that as China's strategic partner, Russia has always firmly supported China's positions and principles on Tibet-related issues. China has highly praised Russia's position.
According to a report by Russia-based Interfax on May 20, Lavrov said on May 19 at the State Duma, the lower house of the Federal Assembly, that the normalization of relations between China and the Dalai Lama mainly depends on the Dalai Lama's stance.
"China has sufficient reasons not to resume contact with the Dalai Lama as long as he continues to make provocative statements and engage in political activities," Lavrov said.
Whether the Dalai Lama acknowledges this or not, he has become a symbol of "Tibet independence."

Friday, May 21, 2010

Jairam Ramesh again

A few days back, I commented on Jairam Ramesh's statement on hydro power projects in Arunachal, during his visit in Beijing.
Here is another interesting point of view.

Ramesh errs in China on Brahmaputra hydro
Himanshu Thakkar
South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People
India’s Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh’s blunders in China have become famous. But one mistake that he committed there seems to have escaped media attention. While discussing the problems that India would face if China were to implement its Brahmaputra diversion project, he said (for example, the Hindu 100510), “The answer to the (problem) lies in India expediting its hydro projects in the Brahmaputra basin. India needs to be much more aggressive in implementing its own hydel projects so that our negotiating position vis-à-vis China improves.” *Ramesh is clearly wrong here.
Firstly, it is wrong for the environment minister to advocate expediting of environmentally destructive big hydro projects. A minister for environment and forests is supposed to work for the protection and improvement of environment and forests and not for expediting projects that destroy environment and  forests. Secondly, he is not supposed to be advocating expediting of projects for which his ministry has not even given statutory clearances, which is indeed the case for most such projects in the Brahmaputra basin. Thirdly, even on merits of the argument, India expediting such projects is not going to be of any help with China when India has no formal treaty for sharing and managing the waters in Brahmaputra basin. On the contrary, if China diverts the Brahmaputra waters as feared, that will adversely impact generation performance of the projects of India on the diverted rivers.
Lastly, even if India were to have a treaty with China on sharing and managing Brahmaputra basin, Mr Ramesh should note that China is not particularly well known for good behavior in this regard. In case of Mekong basin, where again Chana is the upper riparian, the downstream countries have been suffering the adverse impacts of China projects in spite of the existence of an international Mekong Commission backed by Asian Development Bank, Japan and others.
Even more significantly, to push unjustifiable big hydro projects in the Brahmaputra basin under this China Diversion Boggy that India has been trying, would actually destroy the people, environment, rivers and peace in the North East. It is well documented how the unjustifiably displaced people of Tripura by the Dumbur dam there was the most important catchment for the militant struggle there.
It is also useful to note that the main issue that took the minister to China was the cooperation on climate change. Incidentally, the Brahmaputra hydro projects would actually be having big adverse impacts on Climate change due to the destruction of the biodiversity, forests, rivers and so on. Even from this specific point of view, the Ministers' advocacy on big hydro is at cross purposes with his main agenda in China.
One expects better response from India’s Environment and Forests Minister.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Buddhist Institute for Arunachal

It is good news. The Government has sanctioned a new Central Institute of Himalayan Culture Studies (CIHCS) on the model of the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies in Choklamsar near Leh in Ladakh. It will be built at Dahung, near Bombila in West Kameng district of Arunachal.
The Chinese have not yet complained to the Government that this Institute was sanctioned without 'Beijing prior permission' as for them, it falls under 'Southern Tibet' Administration. 
By creating this Institute, the Government of India once again reaffirmed that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India. Good!

Cabinet approves to set up CIHCS centre at Arunachal Pradesh
May 19, 2010,
New Delhi, May 19 (ANI): The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the establishment of the Central Institute of Himalayan Culture Studies (CIHCS) at Dahung in West Kameng District of Arunachal Pradesh.
The CIHCS would be an autonomous institute under the Union Culture Ministry.
The cost of the project is Rs. nine crore with a recurring annual cost of Rs.124.86 lakh.
The West Kameng District of Arunachal Pradesh where the CIHCS is proposed to be established is traditionally a Buddhist land.
This would not only fill the vacuum that exists in the field of education especially Buddism, but will also provide cultural moorings to the youth of this region and foster national integration.
It would also inculcate awareness of the ecological balance and preservation of natural resources. It will teach community arts and crafts for self-sufficiency and sustainable development and reservation of ethnic identity within the framework of national integration.(ANI)

Tightening more and more

President Hu likes to speak of his main objective:  to  build a 'harmonious society'.
In the meantime, he is tightening more and more his grip on the Roof of the World.
Strange 'harmonious society' in which you have to get government's permission to take a photocopy?
The traditional system of copying did not have this disadvantage.

Copying services in Lhasa tightened
China Daily
Those using services to reproduce printed or written material in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet autonomous region, will have to show their ID cards and have their ID numbers registered under a new rule to prevent illegal activities.
The rule was announced at a meeting of the management of the city's reprography sector held on May 10, the Lhasa Evening News reported.
Copy service providers are required to strictly adopt a real-name registration system, the report said.
The name and address of the company or the organization and the name and number of copies, as well as the name of the person who handles such services, should be taken down.
For individual users, the relevant name, address, ID card type and number should be registered, according to the new rule.
The report cited officials as saying that the new measures are meant to "prevent law offenders or criminals from making use of reprography facilities to conduct illegal activities".
Police are also required to strictly examine companies' and individuals' qualifications in operating reprography services, according to the report.
Company applicants need to get permission from the relevant authorities.
Individual applicants must be permanent residents in the city or those who have acquired temporary residence.
Local police will regularly check how effective the new measures are being implemented.
Those who are found to be involved in illegal activities will be asked to shut down their businesses and be held accountable under the law, it said.
The Lhasa police bureau did not give any further details on the new regulations.
Xin Yuanming, deputy police chief of the Lhasa police bureau, said at a press conference after the March 14 riot in Lhasa in 2008 that some separatists constantly hand out banners and pamphlets with illegal content in Tibet.
The March 14 riot killed 18 people and injured hundreds of others, official figures showed.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

It's not just Jairam Ramesh

My article It's not just Jairam Ramesh is posted on Click here and read...

What about the Special Frontier Forces?

The Special Frontier Forces were raised in November 1962, soon after the Chinese attacked India in NEFA and Ladakh.
According to Bharat Rakshak website: "The Special Frontier Force (SFF) was created on 14 November 1962, near the end of the Indo-China War. The Cabinet Secretariat had ordered the raising of an elite guerrilla force composed mainly of Tibetan refugees. It's main goal was to conduct covert operations behind Chinese lines in the event of another Indo-China war. The first Inspector General of the SFF was a retired Indian Army Major General who was known for his unconventional thinking. Soon the SFF came to be known as 'Establishment 22' due to its first Inspector General, who used to be commander of 22 Mountain Regiment during World War II."
Is the raising of Arunachal and Sikkim Scouts a sign that the Government attached less importance to "Establishment 22" who fought so valiantly during the 1971 Operations and the Kargil conflict? 
It is not easy to answer this question? 

Army plans to raise Arunachal and Sikkim Scouts for China border
TNN, May 18, 2010, 01.56am IST
NEW DELHI: Already in the process of raising two new mountain infantry divisions for Arunachal Pradesh, the Army is now also moving ahead with its long-standing plan to raise "home and hearth'' battalions for the unresolved border with China.
The Army commanders' conference, chaired by General V K Singh, on Monday discussed raising of battalions of "Arunachal and Sikkim Scouts'' on the lines of the Ladakh Scouts, which played a stellar role in dislodging Pakistani intruders during the 1999 Kargil conflict.
The proposal for the new Arunachal and Sikkim Scouts' battalions, which could have 5,000 soldiers each, will soon be sent for final approval to the government. "Like the experience with the Ladakh Scouts has shown, people hailing from high-altitude areas are better adapted for being deployed at such heights,'' said a senior officer.
"They are hardy, know the terrain and acclimatise better. Moreover, they can help other Army units in understanding the local language, culture and area better,'' he added.
This comes even as the two new infantry mountain divisions, with 1,260 officers and 35,011 soldiers, approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security in June 2009, are expected to be fully operational by 2012.
The two divisions form part of the several measures being taken, like the basing of Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets in the North-East as well as upgrading of airfields and helipads, to counter the massive build-up of military infrastructure by China all along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control.
Incidentally, the Ladakh Scouts were raised in June 1963, after the debacle in the 1962 war with China, with just eight companies. It gained the status of a full-fledged infantry regiment after it became one of the first units to take part in the Kargil conflict with Pakistan.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dharamsala and The Russian Card?

While one daily gets fed with glamourous and ‘sweaty’ cricket news by the Indian media, more startling news often goes unnoticed.
It was the case on May 13 when Novosti, the Russian state-owned news agency quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: “Russia is ready to help settle the conflict between China and the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama”.
During a speech in the Federation Council, Russia's upper house of Parliament, Lavrov said that Moscow supports the development of interreligious and inter-confessional ties, though Moscow was “against aspects of religion that have been distorted into politics”.
And then, the news: “We are following carefully what is happening between the leadership of China and the Dalai Lama and we know that the Chinese leadership is deeply committed to the Dalai Lama dissociating himself from any kind of political activity and separatist tendencies in regard to one or another territory in China."
Lavrov explained that occasional attempts to politicize the Dalai Lama's role as a spiritual leader have not brought any results, including in his relations with Buddhists in Russia: “If all the parties make attempts to separate clearly pastoral contacts from political associations, this would be a solution to the problem. We are ready to assist in this.”
This statement was rather unexpected; first, because Moscow does not interfere in ‘Beijing’s internal affairs’; further, a few days earlier when the Buddhists in Kalmykia asked the Russian Foreign Ministry to issue an entry visa to the Dalai Lama, it was apparently refused, though Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, President of the Republic of Kalmykia affirmed that Elista, the capital of Kalmykia was expecting a visit of the Dalai Lama to consecrate a temple.
During a news conference Ilyumzhinov clarified his personal position: “Church is separated from the state in our country, but as a person professing Buddhism, I wait for Dalai Lama's visit."
The three Russian Republics of Kalmykia, Buryatia and Tuva have a predominantly Buddhist population. These small, but strategically located republics have nearly 1 million Buddhists reprsenting about 0.5% of the total population of the Russian Federation.
The Tibetan leader has visited the Buddhist republics several times in the past, but since 2007 the Dalai Lama has been denied entry to Russia. His last visit dates 2004, when he paid a religious visit to Kalmykia to consecrate the land for a Buddhist temple.
Telo Tulku Rinpoche, the Kalmyk Head Lama recently confirmed that the Russian authorities have declined the request of the Kalmykia Buddhist Association for a visa to the Dalai Lama. He said a letter from the Russian government stated: "the Dalai Lama's visit to Russia would be taken by Beijing especially sensitively in the current year marking a jubilee of China's and our common victory in WWII."
In these circumstances, the declaration of Lavrov is rather surprising
It is true that in the recent years academic interest has grown a great deal in the Buddhist republics.
Dr. Garri Irina from the Institute for Mongolian, Buddhist and Tibetan Studies in the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Ulan-Ude (Buryata) wrote: “Tibet and Buryatia are countries very closely related to each other. First of all, both regions share a common historical destiny of Tibet-Mongolian civilization which is rooted in Tibetan Buddhism and submission to the authority of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. …Both regions passed through a similar history of persecution of religion and its subsequent revival. …There are more than 200 Buddhist communities in Russia now.”
A revival of Buddhism (the Tibetan Mahayana tradition) is visible in these republics located north of Outer Mongolia (Tuva and Buryata) and on the Caspian Sea (Kalmykia).

Recently historians have discovered several documents showing the close connection between the rulers of Tibet and the Russian Empire. For example, 25 secret letters from Thubten Gyatso, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama to his representative to Russia, a Buryat monk called Agvan Dorzhiev have come to light. The letters, dating between 1910 to 1925, demonstrate that the Dalai Lama was interested in getting political support from Soviet Russia, mainly to balance the British influence in Tibet and keep the Chinese Nationalists at bay. The Lhasa government maintained a strict confidentiality in its communications with St Petersburg and till recently, it was not known.
This is not enough to explain the sudden offer from Moscow to ‘assist’ Beijing and Dharamsala to find a common ground. It is however true that Moscow has always kept an eye on what was happening in the hill station of Himachal. In 1973, a declassified cable from the US ambassador Patrick Moynihan to the State Department in Washington quotes Gyalo Thondup, the Dalai Lama elder brother: “Thondup also mentioned that the Soviets had been in touch with Tibetan refugees in Nepal and in India. They had explored the possibility of refugee cooperation in intelligency [sic] operation and in other activities in Tibet. Thondup said he had discouraged Tibetans from cooperating with the Soviets, but some Tibetans were quite interested in this. He indicated that these contacts had started three or four years ago with then Foreign Minister [Secretary] T.N. Kaul's encouragement, they were more active two years ago than they were now.”
More importantly, President Hu Jintao visited Moscow on May 8 and May 9; hardly a week before Lavrov’s declaration. The occasion was the 65th anniversary of Russia’s Great Patriotic War and the victory over the Nazis. During his stay, Hu lauded the sacrifices made by the Russian people during the fight against ‘fascism’.
Hu’s participation was interpreted “as a signal of Hu’s determination to forge a close strategic alliance” says Russel Hsiao in the China Brief of the Jamestown Foundation.
Hu called upon Russia and China to consolidate their strategic partnership, and promote ‘multipolarity’ in the international system as well as ‘democratization of international relations’.
President Hu met his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev (they had already met on April 15 during the BRIC conference). Hu affirmed that “Beijing and Moscow share extensive interests on many major issues.”
Moreover, Hu spoke China’s ‘new security concept’. For Beijing, this means “to rise above one-sided security and seek common security through mutually beneficial cooperation … and refrain from interfering in other countries' internal affairs and promote the democratization of the international relations”.
This last concept points to the ‘unilateral’ role played by the US on the world stage today as well as the greater importance Beijing wants international ‘democratic’ institutions, such as the UN to have in the future.
This does not elucidate why the Russian Foreign Minister offered to mediate between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government, except, of course, if Beijing was in the know and the announcement was made in consultation with Beijing. Recently, Ma Zhaoxu, the spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry urged the United States to stop ‘supporting anti-Chinese separatist forces’. Beijing is unhappy about the constant reprimand coming from the US about human rights and Tibet. To ask Moscow to be the intermediary is a way to pull the carpet from under Washington’s feet and show the world that the Americans are not the only ones who care for Tibet. It is consistent with Beijing’s policy: in July 1981 CCP General Secretary Hu Yaobang told Gyalo Thondup that the Dalai Lama could return to China, but he would have to stay in mainland China and not get involved in any political activities.
The Dalai Lama’s answer was that his only interest was the fate of 6 million Tibetans, not his personal welfare.
Dharamsala has not reacted so far, but it is worth watching the situation unfolding.

Story of commission, retro commission

My article Story of commission, retro commission on the attack on French engineers in Karachi in 2002 has been published by The New Indian Express. Click here to read.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Was Beijing informed of the Russian move

As I mentioned in a recent posting, an article in RIA Novosti "Russia ready to help reconcile China, Dalai Lama" quotes Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying: "Russia is ready to help settle the conflict between China and the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama". This raises a lot of questions. 
The move is particularly surprising after Hu's visit to Moscow and the 'new security concept' ("in essence, to rise above one-sided security and seek common security through mutually beneficial cooperation … and refrain from interfering in other countries' internal affairs').
Was Beijing informed about Lavrov's declaration?
Beijing trying to send a message to the Dalai Lama through a 'friend'; the message being "drop politics, concentrate on religion and we can find a solution"?

Hu Calls on Russia to Shape New International Political Order
China Brief Volume: 10 Issue: 10
May 13, 2010
Russell Hsiao
At the invitation of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Moscow from May 8 to May 9. The occasion marked the 65th anniversary of Russia’s Great Patriotic War, which celebrates the Soviet Union's victory over the Nazis in World War II. Hu lauded the sacrifices made by the Russian people during the fight against "fascism," and used the occasion to highlight the history of cooperation between China and Russia. The Chinese head of state’s participation at the symbolic parade can be interpreted as a signal of Hu’s determination to forge a close strategic alliance with Russia against the backdrop of the World War II anniversary event. Indeed, according to Russian state-owned RIA Novosti, Hu called upon Russia and China to consolidate their strategic partnership, and promote "multipolarity" (duojihua) in the international system and the "democratization of international relations" (guojiguanxi minzhuhua) (World Journal [Chinese], May 10). To be sure, China's vision of a "democratic international order" would place legitimate authority with the United Nations, where China and Russia—as veto-wielding permanent members of the UN Security Council—possess great influence.
Hu’s packed itinerary included meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, attending Russia’s 65th anniversary Victory Day Parade on the Red Square, and meeting with Russian veterans that fought in China’s northeast against the Japanese Imperial Army. Other prominent Chinese officials that accompanied Hu’s visit included Secretary of the Central Secretariat of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Director of the General Office of the CCP's Central Committee Ling Jihua, Secretary of the Central Secretariat of the CCP and Director of the CCP's Policy Research Office Wang Huning, and Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo, among others (China Daily, May 8). Hu's visit represents a continuation in the flurry of high-level contacts between the two sides and marks the second time that the heads of state met within the span of one month. Medvedev and Hu met on the side of the financial conference held in Brasilia on April 15 for the 2010 BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) conference.
During Hu’s meeting with Russian veterans that fought with the Chinese against Japan, President of the Russian Academy of Military Sciences and General of the Russian Army Makhmut Gareyev noted that, "the Soviet and the Chinese people assumed the heavy responsibility of fighting the aggressors during the world anti-fascist war, paid a huge sacrifice and made an outstanding contribution to the final victory" (PRC Embassy [Denmark], May 9). Hu reciprocated Gareyev's statement by emphasizing that, "we [China and Russia] should advocate a correct view of history and the new security concept of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination under the current fluctuating and complex international situation, cooperate closely in international affairs and jointly maintain regional and world peace" (PRC Embassy [Denmark], May 9).
In his meeting with Putin, Hu told the Russian prime minister that "China-Russia relations are now enjoying a sound momentum of development and the two countries have made much headway in their cooperation in all fields" (PRC Foreign Ministry, May 9). Hu stressed that as strategic partners, Beijing and Moscow share extensive interests on many major issues. Under the current historic circumstances, he added, the two countries should work together, support each other and deepen their all-round strategic cooperation to better safeguard their common interests and world peace and promote common development (PRC Foreign Ministry, May 9). Putin praised Hu's presence at the ceremonies as demonstrating the high-level strategic cooperative partnership between the two nations (PRC Foreign Ministry, May 9).
Using the diplomatic stage offered by Medvedev's invitation, Hu advanced China’s "new security concept" (xin anquan guan) as the harbinger for future cooperation between Beijing and Moscow. According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, China's "new security concept," is, "in essence, to rise above one-sided security and seek common security through mutually beneficial cooperation … and refrain from interfering in other countries' internal affairs and promote the democratization of the international relations" (PRC Foreign Ministry, "China's Position Paper on the New Security Concept," August, 6, 2002). While this is not the first time that the Chinese leadership articulated this concept, the largely symbolic yet historically significant stage commemorating the end of World War II lays bare the observation that in spite of some signs of competition with Russia, Beijing still sees Moscow as a strategic partner in its effort to shape a new international political order (China Times [Taiwan], May 10).

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Thus Beijing spoke

‘Jairam Ramesh wins support in China’ titles The Economic Times.
In recent months, very often one comes across Indians who speak for China, regardless of India’s national interests. This role of self-appointed spokespersons for the People’s Republic of China is not the prerogative of politicians, in fact the case of Jairam Ramesh is rather unique: but the virus often bites academics, think-tankers, ‘experts’ or journalists who lend their voice or pen to Beijing’s policies.
The incident with Mr. Ramesh is more noticeable as it ultimately needed the intervention of the Prime Minister himself.
The Economics Times explains: “Beijing seized upon Jairam Ramesh’s stand on Chinese investments and asked New Delhi to follow the ‘prudent’ line articulated by the environment minister.”
The Global Times, one of the mouthpieces of the Chinese Communist Party, clapped with two hands when Mr Ramesh argued against his Cabinet colleague and Home Minister; Ramesh spoke of the need for removing ‘needless restrictions,’ stating that India should view its ties with China from the ‘broader perspective’.
Mr Ramesh was obviously carried away when he spoke to the Indian media representatives in Beijing; he stated that India’s ‘paranoid’ attitude towards Chinese investment, including Huawei Technologies, the company manufacturing telecom equipment, could damage the India-China relationship and spoil the ‘Copenhagen spirit’, developed last year around the climate change table. The minister affirmed: “The point is that Huawei is creating assets in India, it is hiring Indian professionals, over 80% of its employees are Indians.”
Apart from the fact that he has no business to speak about subjects which are not under his direct responsibility, there is something called 'Cabinet collective responsibility' and he should have respected it. If he does not agree or is not able to make his colleagues change their views, he always has the alternative to resign. It is the way 'Cabinet collective responsibility' works the world over.
He was rightly pulled up by the Congress President and the Prime Minister.
The China Daily, another Chinese official newspaper also takes Mr Ramesh’s side: “A higher degree of political trust is needed to build a healthier economic and trade relationship.” Adding: “In fact, skirmishes over trade have arisen from time to time in recent years, with most such disputes being instigated by the Indian side. The latest import restriction violates World Trade Organisation norms. Worse, it could chill Sino-Indian friendship, which has been warming of late due to positive efforts by leaders on both sides.”
That is not all, believing that he was still Union Power Minister, Ramesh declared that India should use Chinese expertise to implement its hydrological projects in Arunachal Pradesh.
As the Environment Minister, he should perhaps look into the Environment clearance for these projects before ‘awarding’ contracts to Chinese firms, even if the Chinese are known to have more expertise that their Indian counterparts in building dams.
As a Union Minister, he should think of the consequences of his utterances. Has he forgotten that China still claims Arunachal? Does he know that these areas are included in the Chinese Five-Year Development Plan prepared by Beijing? To say, "But our ability to handle vast hydel projects is much less compared to China," is not only childish, but it creates a lot of confusion in the already-complicated relations between Delhi and Beijing. The good ‘contact’ between India and China during the Copenhagen Conference has nothing to do with the present issue.
Around the same time, Mid-DAY reported that according to intelligence agencies many Chinese were settling in Arunachal Pradesh and the power projects in Sikkim and Assam had become the easiest entry points for these infiltrators. Mid-Day affirmed: “An estimated 200 of the 500-odd Chinese labourers hired from contractual jobs escaped from Sikkim and headed for Arunachal Pradesh.”
This is not the first time that Indian officials have become the spokespersons for China’s view and policies. In November 1950, a month after Tibet was invaded by the People’s Liberation Army, K.M. Panikkar, India’s Ambassador in Beijing pleaded the Communist cause with his Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Sardar Patel, the Deputy Prime Minister had to write to Nehru: “My own feeling is that at a crucial period they [Chinese] manage to instill into our Ambassador a false sense of confidence in their so called desire to settle the Tibetan problem by peaceful means. …The final action of the Chinese, in my judgment, is little short of perfidy …Our Ambassador has been at great pains to find an explanation or justification for Chinese policy and actions.”
If one goes through the declassified cables from Panikkar to Nehru, one comes across the ambassador constantly arguing the Chinese point of view, without taking into account India’s strategic and historical interests.
In the same letter, Patel ironically added: “In Peking we have an Ambassador who is eminently suitable for putting across our friendly point of view.”
The fact that Panikkar advocated China’s stand had incalculable consequences in the relations between India and China. The Indian diplomat’s constant kowtowing to Beijing did not bring an improvement, but made the situation worse. This is often not understood in India. Scores of ‘good-hearted’ people are under the impression that by being kind or ‘good’ to China, the Communist leadership will return the consideration.
‘Kind-heartedness’ is one of the motivations for Indian politicians, diplomats, journalists or academics to speak for China.
There is also this nebulous Asian ‘brotherhood’ inherited from Nehru’s days. In fact, whenever there is close collaboration between the two Asian giants, like in Copenhagen for example, it creates a great euphoria, not to say ananda amongst many Indian peace-lovers.
But there is a more serious issue than the ‘peacenik’ clique: when Indian ‘experts’ defend Beijing on issues such as the proposed diversion of the Brahmaputra or speak of ‘sending back’ the Dalai Lama to China to solve the border issue, it raises serious suspicion. Ditto for the recent support received by the Chinese firm Huawei in its campaign to enter the Indian market.
It is not difficult to trace where the ‘inspiration’ comes from.
A few weeks back, The Times in London quoted confidential intelligence reports about the steps taken by British Telecom (BT) “to reduce the risk of attacks by hackers or organised crime.” British Intelligence asserted: “we believe that the mitigating measures are not effective against deliberate attack by China”.
According to The Time, the British agencies told “ministers of their fears that equipment installed by Huawei, the Chinese telecoms giant, in BT’s new communications network could be used to halt critical services such as power, food and water supplies.” At the same time, several Indian papers were questioning the government about its so-called ban on the Chinese company.
Rather strange, it isn’t? Why can’t the Indian press take care to get proper and balanced information?
The answer is perhaps in a book published a few years back, “The KGB and the Battle for the Third World”. Edited by Christopher Andrew, it is based on documents exfiltered by a former Soviet agent, Vasili Mitrokhin. It quotes Oleg Kalugin, the head of the KGB’s Foreign Directorate Intelligence, who describes India as ‘a model of KGB infiltration of a Third World government’. The author says: “The openness of India’s democracy combined with the streak of corruption which ran through its media and political system provided numerous opportunities for Soviet intelligence.”
Kalugin spoke of ‘scores of sources’ in the Indian government.
An article (Chinese 'gifts' worry India) written in 2006 by the present Chief Editor of always comes to my mind. At the time of President Hu Jintao’s visit to India, a senior Indian intelligence official had expressed his concern over “the dramatic increase in Chinese attempts to woo Indian politicians and business leaders with gifts, some of them phenomenally lavish.”
The article affirmed that those who receive these gifts ‘spanned the political spectrum’; the Intelligence officer expressed serious worries “over this alarming trend, which has increased in leaps and bounds over the past three or four years."
With the tremendous ‘rise’ of China, the new importance of the Middle Kingdom in world affairs and the tough economic competition between Delhi and Beijing, this trend was bound to increase.
Today, China is wealthier and less shy to play a role on the International scene. Therefore the easiest and ‘cheapest’ way to influence a ‘brotherly’ nation like India is in getting politicians, media and academics ‘on board’. The KGB or the CIA worked the same way in the 1970’s in Delhi.
The book quoted earlier explained: “The CIA’s hand could be detected in material published in certain newspapers. We of course paid them back in the same coin… Like us, the CIA diligently and not always successfully did what they had to do. They were instruments of their government’s policy; we carried out the policy of our State. Both sides were right to do so.”
Similarly, Beijing today is carrying out the policy of the Chinese State, not only in India, but on the entire sub-continent.
After the SAARC meeting in Thimbu (Bhutan) I was shocked to read in an article about South Asia in The Islamabad Post: “In the early 50s it used to be called the Indian Subcontinent. In the 60s it was called the Indo-Pakistani Subcontinent. It would now be true that that the euphemism of South Asia could be called the Chinese Subcontinent.”
Though Mr Ramesh may have not been influenced by these considerations, his utterances should be seen in this context. It is a pity that the Prime Minster sacrificed a mature and seasoned diplomat (Mr. Shyam Saran) to hand over the negotiations to a perhaps too bright minister. Climate change negotiations are often a boring and tough business; a lot of sweat, for little glamour to put it in cricket terms.