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Sri Lanka’s Mahinda Rajapaksa opposes land for Chinese investment | Reuters

By Shihar Aneez
| COLOMBO

COLOMBO Sri Lanka’s former leader Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday criticised a government plan to grant 15,000 acres for Chinese investment in his constituency, saying it will deprive people of agricultural land.Rajapaksa, chided by the West and India for his close relations with China during his rule, is now agitating against President Maithripala Sirisena government’s moves to attract investment as he seeks to rally support under a new party.Despite his shock defeat in January 2015, Rajapaksa is still popular among Sinhala Buddhists, who accounts for 70 percent of the population, because of his leadership to end a 26-year war against Tamil Tiger separatists.He is backed by a newly formed party with around 45 legislators from the Sirisena-led Sri Lanka Freedom Party.However, while Sirisena’s coalition still has a two thirds majority in parliament and, under the constitution, the legislature cannot be dissolved until early 2020, local and provincial elections in 2017 could see Rajapaksa making gains.Sirisena government has agreed to give 15,000 acres of land to China in Rajapaksa’s constituency of Hambantota, where China Merchants Port Holdings Company will get 80 percent stake in a $1.5 billion port on a 99-year lease.

The government says the investment zone will create thousands of jobs. “These are people’s agricultural lands. We are not against Chinese or Indians or Americans coming here for investment. But we are against the land being given to them and the privatisation they are doing,” Rajapaksa told the Foreign Correspondents’ Association at his official residence in Colombo.He said he had discussed his concerns with Chinese officials when he visited Beijing on a one-week visit last month.

It is not clear whether his opposition and close ties to China could scupper the investment, creating further economic and diplomatic headaches for the government. China is Sri Lanka’s largest lender.But any groundswell of opposition to giving the land to the Chinese could cause problems, especially if the government ends up having to remove local residents and farmers by force. Some of the land is owned by the government. It is planning to pay compensation for the land it does not own. The deal is expected to be signed in early January.

“We’re worried about it. We don’t mind about an industrial park coming in, but not like this. 15,000 acres is too much. We wanted to give 750 acres (under the last regime). When they (China) asked for 1,000 acres, I said no,” Rajapaska said. Rajapaksa, now a legislator in opposition benches, oversaw $7 billion Chinese financing into Sri Lanka’s infrastructure. Sirisena stopped most Chinese projects, including a $1.4 billion land reclamation project launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping, citing corruption and lack of proper procedures, resulting in a bitter diplomatic relationship with China. However, later Sirisena allowed the resumption of projects with China. (Reporting by Shihar Aneez)

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First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 21:55 IST

Dollar stirs from slumber as yield gap yawns | Reuters

By Marc Jones
| LONDON

LONDON The dollar, oil and world stocks rose on Wednesday following upbeat U.S. data that saw the gap between Treasuries and other benchmark global government bonds hit new highs.Europe’s main stock market, London’s FTSE, reopened with a gain of 0.5 percent as it played catch-up after similar run-ups in Germany and France and as Wall Street’s Dow Jones index eyed another crack at 20,000 points.The dollar also drove higher after U.S. consumer confidence shot to its loftiest in more than 15 years in December on hopes that President-elect Donald Trump will nurture further improvements in the world’s biggest economy.Having already jumped 16 percent against the Japanese currency since the U.S. election, the greenback gained a further 0.2 percent to 117.65 yen. It was up a similar amount against the euro and sterling at $1.0390 per euro and $1.2213 to the pound. “Everything is broadly dollar-supportive,” said Societe Generale’s head of currency strategy Kit Juckes.”We have come back from Christmas with some good U.S. data, (U.S.) bond yields are at the top end of their recent range, oil is edging higher and the Dow is flirting with 20,000 points.”Euro zone bond yields fell across the board as concerns about the strength of a rescue plan for Italian banks and normal year-end caution pushed investors to the safety of government debt.Germany’s 10-year yields hit their lowest in seven weeks at 0.18 percent. That in turn widened the yield gap to U.S. Treasuries, which act as the world’s benchmark borrowing rate, to a record high of 237 basis points.Oil prices – the other major market driver in recent weeks – climbed back towards a 1-1/2-year high, as promised output cuts loomed.

Oil has surged more than 50 percent this year despite plunging to a 12-year low in January. Brent was at $56.50 a barrel and U.S. crude at $54.25 after an overnight gain of 1.7 percent.In a sign that the world’s major oil producers may abide by their output agreement, Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar Ali al-Luaibi said on Wednesday his country, which has seen fast production growth in the past two years, would cut supply by between 200,000 and 210,000 barrels per day from January. Gazprom Neft also said it planned to boost oil output by less than it had intended before Russia joined the deal to cut supply.EMERGING JITTERS

Helped by the broadly robust tone to stock and commodity markets, the Australian dollar firmed.Australian stocks gained 1 percent. Indonesian shares added 1.9 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.1 percent.Shanghai dipped 0.3 percent to continue a dire 2016. It has slumped the best part of 18 percent this year, having been a star performer in 2015, dampening an otherwise strong rebound in emerging markets after three straight years of losses.With the dollar and bond yields on the rise again and China’s yuan on the slide, investors are wondering whether the rally could falter.

Data from Morgan Stanley showed EM equity funds logged weekly outflows of $3.35 billion, the second largest of the year, while EM bond funds saw outflows of $800 million, which made it seven straight weeks of outflows.It said the cumulative drop in equity funds over the last eight weeks totalled $11.1 billion.Gold dipped though firmer oil prices and the upbeat U.S. data continued to support the wider commodity market. Copper on the London Metal Exchange was up 1 percent at $5,513 a tonne as trading resumed after the Christmas holidays. Iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange extended gains after breaking a nine-day slump the previous day. It was up 3.5 percent at 569.0 yuan ($81.82) per tonne and has now risen about 170 percent this year, boosted by expectations of Chinese stimulus and hopes that the incoming Trump administration will increase U.S. infrastructure spending. “There is strong positive sentiment on the outlook for these industrial metals going into 2017,” said a Perth-based commodities trader.($1 = 6.9541 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Marc Jones; Editing by John Stonestreet and Dale Hudson)

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First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 19:53 IST

Air Chief Marshal Raha takes swipe at China, rejects concerns about Agni-V

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Brushing aside Chinese reaction on the test firing of long-range nuclear capable missile Agni-V, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on Wednesday said India should carry on with its task of building deterrence capability.In an apparent swipe at China, he said one should not talk about someone else doing something unless it is prohibited like nuclear proliferation and went on to add that it is “common knowledge” as to what is happening in this region “in terms of collusion, transfer of technology which is forbidden”. Underlining that India is only building up its deterrence capability, Raha, who is also the Chairman Chief of Staff Committee, said the country will have to build its capability “in order to strike deep into adversary’s heartland” which will act as a deterrent.The Agni V missile, with an over 5000 km range, covers the entire China. Reacting to the missile test-firing, Chinese Foreign Ministry had yesterday hoped that it complied with UN Security Council rules and safeguarded South Asia’s strategic balance. “I think in international diplomacy, normal diplomacy or military diplomacy, these posturing and signalling will always be there. “So we should just go about with our task, meet our own requirements, security challenges,” Raha said addressing a press conference here days before he demotes office on December 31.Not mincing words, Raha said he will not like to comment on what somebody else is doing unless it is prohibited. “Like nuclear proliferation, which is common knowledge to everyone, what is happening in this region, in terms of collusion, transfer of technology which is forbidden. This is all common knowledge. I am not saying something new,” he said, without naming any country. The IAF chief stated that India is legitimately developing its capability indigenously and he does not think anyone should complain about it.Raha said India is “obviously building up” capability not to actually fight a conflict as it believes in peace and tranquillity. “But we also know we have been drawn into conflicts several times in the past. So going by historical experience, we have to build our capability. Capability to deter. How do we deter an adversary who is strong? We have to build up capability in order to strike deep into adversary’s heartland, take on targets effectively which will hurt the adversary,” he said.

India’s Agni-5 test: China hopes for strategic balance in South Asia

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> China today hoped that India’s testing of the nuclear-capable Agni-5 intercontinental ballistic missile complied with UN Security Council rules and safeguarded South Asia’s strategic balance even as Beijing maintained that the two nations are “not rivals but partners”.Taking exception to reports that the successful test of Agni-V was meant to target China, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, “On your question on India test firing the Agni-5 ballistic missile, we have noted relevant reports,” to a question at a media briefing here. “On whether India can develop this ballistic missile that can carry nuclear weapons, I think relevant resolutions of the UNSC have clear rules,” she said without elaborating.We have always believed that safeguarding strategic balance and stability in South Asia is conducive for the peace and prosperity of countries in the region,” she said. The strategic balance in South Asia apparently referred to the military balance between India and Pakistan. Agni-5, a 5,000-km range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is widely regarded as a strategic missile targeted at China as it can reach almost all parts of the Chinese mainland. Hua also criticised media reports in India and outside referring to the Agni-5 as targeted at China and aimed at correcting India’s strategic balance with Beijing.”On the test firing by India, we have also noted that some media, including Indian media and also some Japanese media, have speculated on whether this act of India is targeted at China,” she said. “I think, as to India’s intentions, you have to ask the Indian side,” she said adding that India and China are not rivals but partners. As for us, we think that the leaders of China and India have an important consensus which is that China and India are both important developing countries and emerging economies,” she said.”China and India are not rivals but partners. The Chinese side is willing to work with countries in the region including India to jointly safeguard lasting peace, prosperity and stability of the region,” she said and asked media to report more objectively. “We also hope that relevant media outlets do not indulge in arbitrary speculations and make objective reports and do more things conducive to developing mutual trust between China and India and peace and stability in the region,” she said.Experts say that proven ICBM capability currently exists only with the five major powers – the US, Russia, France, the UK and China.Russia’s land-based Satan missile can reach 16,000 kms, while China has ICBMs that can hit targets up to 13,000 kms.While India is part of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), China is not.

George Michael had his own cultural revolution in China | Reuters

By Cate Cadell
| BEIJING

BEIJING It was strangely muted when George Michael, as part of the British pop duo Wham!, took the stage at the Workers Gymnasium in Beijing in April 1985, recalled one of those who attended that now legendary first Western pop act in Communist China.Around 15,000 concert-goers watched Michael and bandmate Andrew Ridgeley sing hits such as “Careless Whisper” and “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” – as police grimly stared at them.”I’d never seen so many police in my life,” Mao Danqing, a now well-known Chinese writer who attended the concert, told Reuters on Monday.     The security presence was so intimidating people were too timid to make any noise during the songs, Mao said.    “When you see that many police you feel terrified. Everyone sat in separate sections and each section had police lined up in front, facing the crowd,” Mao said.Michael, who became one of the pop idols of the 1980s with Wham! and then forged a career as a successful solo artist with sometimes sexually provocative lyrics, died at his home in England on Sunday. He was 53.CHINA OPENING UP

    China maintained strict controls on Western music and film in the 1980s, just a few years after adopting historic economic reforms in 1978 following the chaos of the Cultural Revolution. The music of Wham! and their contemporaries remained banned and authorities tightly controlled reports of the concert.The group’s manager at the time, Simon Napier-Bell, said it took 18 months to negotiate the two performances on Wham!’s two-week tour – the other concert was in Guangzhou. Napier-Bell said in a book published on the 20th anniversary of the tour, “I’m Coming to Take You to Lunch”, that he undermined Queen’s candidacy for the tour by presenting Michael as a more “wholesome” alternative to Queen’s frontman, Freddie Mercury. The book’s title was a reference to Napier-Bell’s relentless wooing of Chinese authorities with lunch meetings.A film documenting the tour called “Foreign Skies: Wham! in China” is available on YouTube. It shows Michael and Ridgeley getting chased by photographers along the Great Wall, chatting about cricket at a British Embassy cocktail reception, touring a traditional market and playing an impromptu game of soccer.    Mao, the Chinese writer, received his concert ticket from his university – one of several that were given allocations of tickets for students studying literature.

  “We were like blank pages back then. I’d never seen anything like this before in my life,” said Mao, who said he was seated behind students from North Korea.”In front of me, the foreign students jumped up to dance, the police quickly came and told them to sit down,” Mao said.’HE CHANGED CHINA’

    Despite the tense atmosphere, the Beijing concert has since become legendary among China’s rock royalty.    “They certainly had an impact on China,” said Kaiser Kuo, the front man of a popular Chinese metal band in the 1980s called the Tang Dynasty. “Everyone knew Wham! songs, even people who would go on to play music that diverged starkly from pop.”    Chinese took to social media on Monday to mourn Michael, whose 1984 hit “Careless Whisper” was particularly popular in China.     “That performance marked the beginning of China’s opening up its gate (to Western music),” said one user. “He changed China!”Michael said in music video for the release of Wham!’s single “Freedom” in 1985 that “nobody had any idea what to expect from Chinese audiences”.”I did feel that although we were very privileged to actually be put in the position, that we were acting as ambassadors of a sort.” (Reporting by Cate Cadell; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Alex Richardson)

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First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 21:11 IST

Leh safest route on Kaliash Manasarovar yatra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Focus has shifted to the Centre after Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti favoured starting the Kaliash Manasarovar yatra from Leh.“I am in favour of opening of more routes. I strongly favour starting of Kailash Manasarovar Yatra through Leh so that the area gets a tourist and economic boost,” said Mufti.Situated at the altitude of 22,028 feet, Mount Kailash is the abode of Lord Shiva in Tibet. Pilgrims perform parikrama at Mount Kailash after the arduous trek. En route is the Manasarovar lake in which a dip is considered holy.So far, yatris took two routes—Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand and Nathu La in Sikkim. This involves trekking at altitudes of up to 19,500 feet in inhospitable conditions. An easier route is via Damchok, in the Leh district. However, the Chinese government is reluctant to open this as it falls on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).Leh-Damchok-Mansorvar is the shortest and safest route. In fact, the Ladakhi people have been demanding the opening of this route for economic prosperity as well. A memorandum presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014 by former Chief Executive Councilor of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh, said, “From here, pilgrims can make the trek in two days. This would also give a much-needed fillip to the local economy.”Nawang Rigzin Jora, who represents Leh constituency in Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly, said India has taken up the matter with China from time to time, but they are reluctant.“They may have their own reasons. There have been incursions off and on (from China) on the Indo China border. Another reason could be Ladakhis are big followers of the Dalai Lama,” Jora said.Jora said there is a road up to the Kailash Mansrovar right from Leh. “Safest route is through Leh. You can fly to Leh, take one or two days to acclimatize and then drive up to Kailash Mansarovar.”

You can’t make foreign policy based on domestic political issues: Shivshankar Menon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Your book talks about choices and a remarkable continuity of foreign policy during the tenure of three PMs – PV Narasimha Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh. In your assessment, does this continuity still exist? And how necessary is continuity for the country’s foreign policy?I think all these three PMs had a similar approach to foreign policy. Their goal was to transform India, to make it a modern state. Also because that was a particular period when globalisation, open international trade and economics dominated the scene. Now the context has changed. But in practice, fundamentals of policy have remained the same. If you look at what this government has been doing – towards US, China, Russia and Pakistan, it has tried similar policies. But because the context has changed, the results were different. Today when you see tensions in relations with China, stress in relations with Pakistan, it is partly due to the changed context. Their behaviour has changed. We are at a very delicate stage as far as our foreign policy is concerned. I don’t think we can go on doing what we had always done.You have a history of dealing with China in the Indian foreign policy setup. Since relations with China warmed up in 1988, there had ensued an era of peace and tranquillity. Is there a shift in India’s dealings with China now? Should we attribute it to Chinese resurgence or India’s confrontationist attitude? What has happened with China is that the modus vivendi which we had worked out and formalised at the highest level when Rajiv Gandhi visited and which lasted for 30 years has changed. Our understanding was that we would discuss our differences, the boundary question, etc but we would not allow them to impede normal relations. We did trade, we did exchanges. We now have $72 billion trade; we cooperated where we could externally at the WTO Doha round, climate change, etc. That modus vivendi has broken down. Both countries have also changed.For instance, when we started economic reforms, the share of external economy (merchandise trade) to the GDP was a mere 14% . By 2014, it was 49.3%. Now that means our dependence on the external world is more. Today we have a real interest in freedom of navigation in South China Sea. China also has real interest in South China Sea. But that is a new phenomena. Both are major trading nations and it is in the interest of both to keep the sea lanes free and open. China says they are our waters. So there is an issue. You need to recalibrate the relationship. Look at China’s relationship with Pakistan today. In 1996, President Jiang Zemin told the Pakistani National Assembly that you should do with India what we do. Discuss differences, but do not let it affect the rest. Today it is reverse. China is investing $46 billion in Gwadar and the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). There is a problem today. Only thing we can do is sit together and discuss how we can respect each other’s core interests. And if they overlap or there are differences, how to manage them.Recently US President Elect Donald Trump announced that his administration would walk away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, which means abandoning the Asian pivot as well, of which India was sheet anchor. How will it affect Indian interests?Trump has come to power on a pledge to disengage from the rest of the world, which we may call deglobalisation. On the TPP he always said he would not support it. But it is too early to say how it is going to work out. Trump has already surprised people by speaking to the Taiwanese leadership. He has the potential to be quite disruptive, but politicians don’t always implement what they promise during campaigns. Let us see.Why is India making an issue of the South China Sea when it is nowhere close to its neighbourhood? Especially as other East Asian countries bordering it are locked in security and economic partnership with China and brokering peace.I don’t think we are in confrontation. Some years ago, we had offered China a dialogue on maritime security, which would include all these issues such as our interests in the South China Sea and the Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean region. They are also interested in freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean. Their oil also comes through Hormuz and Malacca Straits. We have new issues at hand. We need to discuss, obviously, the CPEC. Different countries have coped in different ways with the rise of China and with the change in balance of power they see around them. For us, Look East was a response to this, and now it has transformed into Act East.Can you bring some clarity to ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR), of which CPEC is also part. Does it make sense for India to stay out?My own personal view is that as long as the road is open for everybody to use and is in your interest to promote trade and commerce, there is no harm. If parts of OBOR work for you, use them. The parts which don’t work, and are actually offensive to your interests like CPEC, as it goes thorough Indian territory, you should oppose quite clearly. Other bits like ports, railways or pipelines that serve India’s interests , use them. But we must insist that the initiative is open to everybody and not exclusive; that no conditions are attached to it and is purely an economic initiative.The CPEC frankly doesn’t make economic sense. I read in Chinese newspapers that the pipeline along CPEC carrying oil will be 16.6 times more expensive than carrying oil by sea or by another road to China. It doesn’t make any economic sense, keeping in view the transport and railways passing through the world’s highest mountains and most insecure and difficult terrain. The port of Gwadar is next to Karachi. With all these factors, the immediate suspicion would be that it is for other purposes like military and strategic purposes, to project power in the Indian Ocean. So for me, CPEC is a problem. Indian government has made it clear why it has reservations about it.But if CPEC or OBOR aids development of the region, isn’t that in India’s interest?Again, if it works for the people, for development, we should use it. Look, we could run a bus between Srinagar and Muzaffarbad across the line, in the most heavily militarised territory with all the backlog of politics and whatever. You can find ways to make people’s lives easier. That is the responsibility of governments. But that doesn’t mean you give up your stand. Governments should not make people’s lives difficult.Coming back to the Sino-Indian border dispute, is there really a dispute? As per old census records, in 1891 the area of Jammu and Kashmir was 80,900 sq miles; in 1911 some 84,258 sq miles; in 1941, it came down to 82,258 sq miles and suddenly as the border dispute arose in 1961, the area was raised to 86,024 sq miles. Why these discrepancies and the logic behind the suddenly increased area?The fact is that until 1954, Survey of India maps used to show the border in the Western sector with Aksai Chin as an undefined border. At different stages people had different ideas. From our side there might have been a lack of precision. But let me tell you there was absolutely no Chinese presence in the region till 1950. By then they had come to Tibet and not to the border. We were consistent after that. Frankly, as I describe in the book, China manufactured a case. They didn’t say they had a problem until January 1959. I think you need to look at both sides. We were a new government; it took us time to figure out.But A. G. Noorani in his book, India-China Boundary Problem, has documented that under Jawaharlal Nehru, old maps were discarded and burned at the Ministry of External Affairs to create a case for a border dispute?You need to look at what happened in a context. This is why foreign policy is about choices. If you look at newly Independent India, there were plenty of problems – looking at refugee issues, the consequences of Partition, fighting a war in Kashmir with Pakistan, trying to integrate the states till 1958, etc. The settling of border issue was not number one priority in those conditions. The remarkable thing is that Nehru turned his attention to these problems and attended to them in the middle of all the things that were on his plate. I think it was remarkable. He showed the sense of history and the importance of these things. It is wrong to then say why they did this, why they didn’t do that. That would be unfair.The acid test of our foreign policy has been dealing with Pakistan. You seem too pessimistic that nothing can happen on that front. Frankly there are intuitional and structural issues in Pakistan that don’t allow it to have a normal , stable and predictable relationship with us. For me that is the root of the problem. We tried repeatedly and we had come quite close many times like in 2005. It is not that we don’t know solutions. We know how to move forward. But there are very strong forces, as I have mentioned in the book. We are actually dealing with many Pakistans. The ordinary Pakistan that includes civilians, businessmen, politicians have no animosity towards India. They are friendly. We spent three years there, made a lot of friends. As a family we were very happy there. But that is not all of Pakistan. There is the Pakistan of the establishment, of the ISI, jihadi organisations, religious right, etc. They have their own views. I don’t think they will permit a normal stable relationship. As long as they have power, as they have in the present chaos in Pakistan, they will not allow a relationship to grow. That is the source of my pessimism. I believe we should deal with different Pakistans differently.Is there a possibility of creating a constituency for peace?We cannot affect the balance of forces within Pakistan. We cannot structure Pakistan. Some world powers have tried , but failed. I am relatively pessimistic in the short term. In the long run, if one starts being rational towards your own interest, it will make peace. But there re are elements there which are very powerful, who will not permit it in today’s circumstances. That is why I am pessimistic.The peace process, you mention under your supervision which had reached a stage of breakthrough had devised a way to find a people centric rather a territory centric solution. Is there any way to pick up threads?Exactly, Dr. Manmohan Singh used to say make border irrelevant and minimise hardships to people. Yes, we did find ways. Whether it was bus, trade across the LoC. But resistance is there. It is a battle that has to be fought every time. I am sure we can reconnect threads. But the primary block is configuration of forces within Pakistan.You held the top security post in the country as NSA after a wealth of experience in foreign affairs, especially so in the neighbourhood. Does unpredictability in foreign policy help achieve goals?If you look at India as an actor, we have grown from the 10th largest economy to 3rd largest economy in the world from Vajpayee’s time. We have an interest in the way the world works. We did well out of globalisation. We are reformers. I cannot say that the present world order is perfect or ideal. But we have done well out of it recently. Now unpredictability is an insurgent tactic. It is a tactic for those who want to draw attention. India doesn’t have that problem. You have a challenge in running the system . For me unpredictability is a tactic, which captains and majors do. Yes deception, surprise, and shock at tactical level can work. But when it comes to strategy, unpredictability is not a good thing. People should know your red lines and core interests. You were the custodian of India’s nuclear arsenal as well. The element of unpredictability in our nuclear doctrine has not worked well. It has not even deterred or helped us change the security system to our advantage.What was our nuclear weapons designed for – it was to deter people from threatening us. That has worked. It was never designed to be used in wars or to stop terrorism. If you start saying nuclear weapon should do all these functions, then you say it has failed. But for me it has succeeded for its declared purpose. They are not war fighting weapons. You know the affect they can have. And with Pakistan, frankly in our case there is a three minute warning time. We are next door to each other. If you are bombing Pakistan, you are bombing yourself keeping in view the direction of winds etc. You have mentioned in the book, that when you went to meet Left leaders, they had congratulated you for the conclusion of Indo-US nuclear deal. But later they opposed it to the extent of attempting to bring down the Manmohan Singh government?We had met all the 12 conditions as laid down in public. They never expected it. They were surprised. Every party, not only the Left, later took position keeping in view their domestic constituencies and political calculations.Political argument was that you are becoming allies of the US. They took positions that suited them domestically . See the BJP, when they were in power previously, they started it. When they were in Opposition, they opposed it. And when they are back in power, they again started it.Increasingly foreign policy issues are being played in domestic politics. Is that tying the hands of governments to devise a long-term and an effective foreign policy?Let me put it in this way. Foreign policy has always been part of domestic politics in India. Pakistan policy has always been. If you look at China policy, Vajpayee made a reputation during his initial days by raising issues related to China. Through the 60s policy towards US has always been divisive . That is good. You must debate what is good for you. But today, foreign policy is being used for domestic proposes for the first time to an extent that it is worrying. You must determine foreign policy to India’s interest and not to a political party’s interest or a leader’s interest or a government’s interest. That is why I have mentioned that when we did the boundary agreement with China, Narasimha Rao insisted on going to talk to all Opposition leaders, right through the negotiations. You are doing India’s work, not Rao’s work or Congress party’s work. Discussion and dialogue are necessary, but I don’t think you make foreign policy on the basis of domestic political issues.You drafted much criticised Sharm ul Sheikh joint statement with Pakistan, which for the first time mentioned Baluchistan. Do you feel vindicated now, since this government has taken up the issue so vigorously?(Laughs) Well, I feel like laughing. But what can I say? I studied history in university. So I have taken the view that in the long run history will take a better view of these things. It was a moment, there was great optimism for a breakthrough. Criticism of this statement was aimed at addressing domestic politics. There was not a word about Kashmir in that statement. That was unprecedented. After the statement was issued, Pak PM Yusuf Raza Geelan came out of the room and on the stairs, the whole Pakistani media attacked him. And you should have seen his face, he was shaken. But when attacks started in India, then they thought it is Pakistan’s victory. Nobody had time for substance. As I said, everyone had their own agendas . It is interesting how history works. We were criticised for bringing the issue of Baluchistan in India-Pakistan discourse. But now they think, it is an important element in the discourse.

Wary of increasing Chinese activity in neighbourhood, India to revive Special Service Bureau

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Becoming wary of increasing Chinese activity in India’s neighbourhood, especially in Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and along the international border, the Centre has decided to revive the Special Service Bureau (SSB), the erstwhile avatar of the Sashastra Seema Bal.Sources said that National Security Advisor Ajit Doval has shot a missive to Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) chief RN Ravi and Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, asking them to work out the revival plans of the SSB.The SSB was constituted in 1963, immediately after the 1962 war debacle, to act as a bulwark to keep the Chinese manoeuvres in the region at bay by recruiting local foot soldiers in large numbers.Organised for winning over the border population in Arunachal Pradesh and Bangladesh, Nepal and even Jammu borders to serve as the eyes and ears of the security forces, the Bureau played a key role in gathering intelligence along the border and in neighbouring countries on Chinese designs.The move to revive the Bureau, in addition to a dedicated Mountain Corps and deployment of the Brahmos missiles along the Indo-China border, has been taken by the top securityestablishment in view of the increasing footprints of China in the neighbouring countries and along the international border, sources told DNA.The recent Chinese manoeuvres (Belt and Road Initiative) of opening up new rail and road trade route with Nepal linking Guangdong, Tibet and Kathmandu, the under-construction Shigatse-Gyirong rail link, that would leave Kathmandu merely 84 km away, and the plan to build a tunnel under Mount Everest have made the Indian security establishment very apprehensive of Chinese designs.Besides, China is also increasing its footprints in Bangladesh and Myanmar. Bangladesh recently showed keen interest in increasing Chinese FDI and support for developing infrastructure. During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent visit, the two countries signed 28 MoUs and deals.The Chinese dominance can also lead to change in dynamics of relations with neighbouring countries and it is important for India to prepare for future threats, said sources. Moreover, Pakistan’s ISI is also trying to make India’s eastern borders active and use them to fuel disturbance. The role of SSB will come in very handy in countering these threats, sources said.The SSB had thousands of locals — well trained in intelligence-gathering, firearms and combat role — spread out in the border areas, who not only served wonderfully well by way of penetration and intelligence-collection but also by countering the propaganda that Chinese tried to feed near the border areas and in neighbouring countries.In its new avatar, the SSB will have to undergo sophisticated training and deeper penetration, said sources. It would take quite some time to put the plan on the ground as the SSB has lost touch with much of its old assets after it got into the new mould.

Indian Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba to visit Japan to expand maritime relations

New Delhi: To consolidate and expand the maritime relation between New Delhi and Tokyo, India’s Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba will visit Japan from 19 December, a statement said on Sunday.

During the visit, Admiral Lanba will hold discussions with the Japanese Navy chief, the Defence Minister and the Chief of Joint Staff besides other senior officials and dignitaries.

Defence cooperation between India and Japan is primarily focused towards maritime cooperation, the statement said.

The Navy is waiting for the government’s approval to purchase 12 US-2i amphibious aircraft from Japanese aircraft maker ShinMaywa for Rs 10,000 crore.

This will be the largest defence purchase from Japan after it ended its five decades old self-imposed embargo defence export. The deal is stuck since 2013.

Sunil Lanba. CNN News 18Sunil Lanba. CNN News 18

Sunil Lanba. CNN News 18

Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force has participated in the Malabar naval exercise in 2007, 2009, 2014 prior to being included as a regular member in the exercise since last year.

The force participated in Malabar 15 and 16 held respectively in the Bay of Bengal and Western Pacific.

Japan was in 2014 included as an observer in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, a maritime cooperation construct conceptualised and pioneered by the Indian Navy in 2008.

The aggressive posturing of the Chinese Navy in East Asia and South China sea has compelled both India and Japan to formulate a joint maritime strategy.

India and Japan share similar maritime challenges such as long coastline, extensive exclusive economic zone, coastal security, large coastal shipping and fishing fleet, and both navies have opportunities to learn from each other’s experiences.

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 18:16 IST

Demonetization will meet fate of Congress’ ‘Nasbandi’: Lalu Prasad Yadav

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> RJD president Lalu Prasad on Saturday said demonetization would meet the fate of ‘Nasbandi’ of the Congress rule and announced protest across Bihar on December 28.During a day-long meeting of RJD MPs, ministers, legislators and office-bearers, Prasad and other leaders of the party highlighted people’s woes following the scrapping of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes. Addressing the RJD leaders, Prasad criticised the move and said, “It will meet the fate of ‘nasbandi’ (forced sterilisation) during the Congress rule in the past.” Prasad and his party have been on the forefront of protest against the demonetization decision inside and outside Parliament.Several prominent RJD leaders had shared dais with TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamafta Banerjee during her demonstration against demonetization in Patna on November 30, though Prasad himself was not present. Asked how he saw Nitish Kumar getting praise from Centre on demonetization, Prasad, whose RJD is a partner in the grand alliance government, said, “Nitish Kumar’s approach is similar to our’s…all of us are standing together against hardship caused to masses due to high-value currency invalidation.” Nitish Kumar and his party JD(U), which has supported demonetization, had kept away from Banerjee’s demonstration.Economist Mohan Guruswamy, who was advisor in the NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was also invited to speak on adverse impact of demonetization. Guruswamy gave a detailed slide presentation with the help of data and charts to tell RJD leaders how demonetization would cause a drop of 2.5 per cent in the country’s GDP by the end of the current fiscal. In the meeting Prasad, Tejaswi Yadav, Abdul Bari Siddiqui, who is the finance minister in the Nitish Kumar government, and a host of senior leaders spke on the woes of poor people and farmers standing outside banks and ATMs for withdrawal of cash. Prasad said, “After the December-28 dharna, leaders of all the parties, national as well regional, would be invited to a rally later in Patna.” He said the date of the rally would be announced later.Making a scathing attack at the Prime Minister, the RJD chief said “after seeing that demonetization is failing, the PM has shifted the issue now and is talking about cashless, PayTm.” “On the one hand the PM talks of going ahead of China and on the another hand he is favouring a company (PayTm) in which the Chinese have a major share,” he said. During over half-an-hour of presentation, Guruswamy said though former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had predicted a fall of two per cent in the GDP due to demonetization, his view is that the decline would amount to about 2.5 per cent by the end of the financial year.Guruswamy claimed, “22 crore daily workers have been adversely affected by the demonetization.” He said of the total amount of unaccounted money, only 4 per cent is in the form of cash while major chunk of 46 per cent is invested in land and building, 26 per cent in jewellery and 24 per cent is parked abroad. “Modi is after only this 4 per cent of the black money which is in the form of cash which could not bear any result other than causing miseries to common people, especially the daily wagers,” he added.”Approximately Rs 30 crore of black money is expected to be unearthed through the demonetization. A total of Rs 42,000 crore would be spent in reprinting this volume of scrapped notes,” Guruswamy, who taught Economics at Harvard University, said. Handing over a pamphlet with views of Guruswamy on note scrapping, Prasad told RJD workers to hold “jan jagran” (public awareness meeting) at grassroots level from December 20-26 to make them aware of truth of demonetization.

China will give back seized drone, criticises U.S. hyping up the issue | Reuters

By Ben Blanchard
| BEIJING

BEIJING China’s Defence Ministry said on Saturday it had been in talks with the United States about returning an underwater drone taken by a Chinese naval vessel in the South China Sea, but the U.S. was not helping by “hyping up” the issue.The drone was taken on Thursday, the first seizure of its kind in recent memory, about 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay off the Philippines, just as the USNS Bowditch was about to retrieve the unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), U.S. officials said.The Defence Ministry said a Chinese naval vessel discovered a piece of “unidentified equipment” and checked it to prevent any navigational safety issues, before discovering it was a U.S. drone.”China decided to return it to the U.S. side in an appropriate manner, and China and the U.S. have all along been in communication about it,” the ministry said on its website.”During this process, the U.S. side’s unilateral and open hyping up is inappropriate, and is not beneficial to the smooth resolution of this issue. We express regret at this,” it added.U.S. President-elect Donald Trump weighed in to the row on Saturday, tweeting: “China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters – rips it out of water and takes it to China in unprecedented act.”Without directly saying whether the drone was operating in waters China considers its own, the ministry said U.S. ships and aircraft have for a long period been carrying out surveillance and surveys in “the presence” of Chinese waters.”China is resolutely opposed to this, and demands the U.S. stops this kind of activity,” it said.

China will remain on alert for these sorts of activities and take necessary steps to deal with them, the ministry said without elaborating.Earlier, the Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, cited an unidentified Chinese source as saying they believed the issue would be resolved smoothly.The United States says the drone was operating lawfully.”The UUV was lawfully conducting a military survey in the waters of the South China Sea,” a U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It’s a sovereign immune vessel, clearly marked in English not to be removed from the water – that it was U.S. property,” the official said.

The Pentagon confirmed the incident at a news briefing on Friday, and said the drone used commercially available technology and sold for about $150,000.Still, the Pentagon viewed China’s seizure seriously since it had effectively taken U.S. military property.”It is ours, and it is clearly marked as ours and we would like it back. And we would like this not to happen again,” Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis said.

HEIGHTENED CONCERNS
The seizure will add to concerns about China’s increased military presence and aggressive posture in the disputed South China Sea, including its militarization of maritime outposts.A U.S. research group said this week that new satellite imagery indicated China has installed weapons, including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on all seven artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea.The drone seizure coincided with sabre-rattling from Chinese state media and some in its military establishment after Trump cast doubt on whether Washington would stick to its nearly four-decades-old policy of recognising that Taiwan is part of “one China.”Those comments came after Trump took a telephone call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Dec. 2, prompting a diplomatic protest from China.President Barack Obama said on Friday it was appropriate for Trump to take a fresh look at U.S. policy toward Taiwan, but he cautioned that a shift could lead to significant consequences in the U.S. relationship with Beijing, as the notion that Taiwan is part of “one China” is central to China’s view of itself as a nation. (Additional reporting by Josephine Mason and Meng Meng; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 17, 2016 20:56 IST

Dalai Lama spiritual leader: India to China

“Recently in disregard of China’s strong opposition, India insisted on arranging for the 14th Dalai Lama’s meeting with President Mukherjee,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India on Friday dismissed China’s objection to the meeting between exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and President Pranab Mukherjee. Mukherjee hosted the Dalai Lama and other Nobel Peace laureates at a conference on children’s rights on Sunday.“Recently in disregard of China’s strong opposition, India insisted on arranging for the 14th Dalai Lama’s meeting with President Mukherjee,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said.Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup responded: “His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a respected and revered spiritual leader. It was a non-political event organised by Nobel laureates dedicated to the welfare of children,” he said.

Pak wary of India’s Trump card on NSG

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India is hoping for a stronger backing from US President-elect on the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership and a host of other issues.Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar is once again in the US, meeting stakeholders. Last month also, he had interacted with “very senior leaders” of the President-elect’s transition team on this issue.Indications that India has been moving at a faster pace on the NSG front is evident from the anxiety in Islamabad.On Wednesday, Pakistan alleged that “powerful countries were pressurising smaller nations to exempt India in the admission process to the NSG.”Sources here said that efforts are currently on to fix an early meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Trump to bring clarity on different issues, which also includes the US support to the elite nuclear club. Earlier last month, India’s hopes of membership were dashed after the NSG meeting in Vienna ended inconclusively. Listing the progress so far, officials here said that they have succeeded in getting crucial support from Mexico, Britain, Russia, Canada, France, South Africa, Australia, Argentina and Brazil. Even Pakistan’s staunch ally, Turkey, has confirmed its commitment in backing India’s bid. One country, apart from China, which has not been so enthusiastic on India’s membership is New Zealand.Last October, then New Zealand Prime Minister John Key stated that “his country would continue to contribute constructively to the process currently under way in the NSG to consider India’s membership.” Key stepped out of office on December 12, paving way for the new administration led by Bill English.As far as the new US administration is concerned, New Delhi can take hope from the fact that Trump seems to be taking a favourable view on India.In a bid to overcome Chinese reluctance, India had carried out a massive outreach. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj worked talked to her counterparts and the Foreign Secretary travelled to Beijing on June 16-17 and parked himself in Seoul to steer efforts in the last leg of deliberations. Senior Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) officials fanned out to different world capitals to explain India’s position to its NSG partners.In his meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Modi raised the issue repeatedly to drive home the importance that India attached to this issue. But briefing reporters, Wang, who was the chief negotiator for China in the South Korea meet, said that the signing of the NPT, “is a must.Wang had also warned that “if exceptions are allowed here or there on NPT, the international non-proliferation regime will collapse altogether.”Govt remains confident of NSG membership in 2017Senior officials of the Obama administration had expressed optimism that India’s membership into the NSG would be done by this “year-end.” This looks unlikely now. However, government sources said that they will continue their efforts in 2017 exuding confidence that they have succeeded in addressing concerns of most of the countries, except China.

Pakistan wary of NSG ‘exemption’ for India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan is wary of powerful countries pressurising smaller nations to exempt India in the admission process to the NSG and feels that strategic stability in South Asia would be undermined if Pakistan’s application was not treated equally with that of India.Pakistani official suspect that powerful countries could force the smaller partners to support India’s Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership bid despite a growing realisation for a criteria-based approach for joining the 48-member elite grouping. “We are pretty confident that NSG countries would not go down the exemption way, but if they ultimately do so and give exemption to India,” Director General of Disarmament at the Foreign Office Kamran Akhtar said while speaking at a workshop on ‘Defence, Deterrence and Stability’ in South Asia. “…There would be serious repercussions not just for Pakistan, but also for other non-nuclear weapon states that may feel being unjustly denied their right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy,” he said.At the same time, Pakistani officials feel encouraged by growing support in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for establishing criteria for membership of non-NPT countries, Dawn reported. “There are a lot of countries that now recognise the need for a criteria-based approach rather than granting exemptions, but pressures are still being exerted on smaller countries,” he said.The workshop was jointly organised by Islamabad-based think-tank Centre for International Strategic Studies (CISS) and London?s International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).Last month in Vienna NSG members, for the second time in a year, failed to reach consensus on the admission of non-NPT countries. The NSG members have been divided between countries demanding strict adherence to the NPT criteria and the bloc wanting to embrace India immediately.A growing support within NSG has been noted for developing criteria for non-NPT states and the Chinese proposal for a two-step approach for new admissions which involves developing criteria in the first stage and then inviting applications for the membership. He said it was now up to NSG countries to decide if they wanted the group to be seen as being driven by political and commercial interests or else they would want non-proliferation goals to be strengthened.The official warned that strategic stability in South Asia would be undermined if Pakistani application was not treated equally with that of India.Pakistan has been pushing for its membership in the group by adopting a uniform criteria for any new country to join NSG despite US backing for India to join through a selective wavier of conditions.Foreign Office’s Additional Secretary Tasneem Aslam said the issue of membership of non-NPT countries was deeply linked to strategic stability in South Asia. “Today, the NSG stands at crossroads, once again, as it considers membership for non-NPT states. An even-handed and non-discriminatory approach by the NSG at this juncture would be of far-reaching significance for strategic stability in South Asia and global non-proliferation efforts,” she said.

Rajnath Singh must forget his Pakistan obsession and let the Indian Army do its job

My heart sank as I read Home Minister Rajnath Singh‘s speech on Sunday at a Martyrs’ Day event in Kathua, South Jammu. My despair was caused not only by what he said but also by the very fact that he found it necessary to say it.

He said, among other things, that Pakistan is trying to divide India on religious lines and warned the neighbouring country that if it doesn’t stop supporting terrorism, it may get divided into “10 parts”.

Then a pearl of wisdom rolled from the esteemed tongue of Congress scion Rahul Gandhi, the world-renowned pacifist who is forever ready to place his own life on the altar of India’s unity. He said:

What Gandhi said was so wonderfully sagacious that it must have made the Pakistanis roll on their drawing room floors in sheer ecstasy. The joy of Pakistanis, in turn, would make India’s Left bauddhiks or intellectuals, whose superior wisdom stretches their mental horizons far beyond country boundaries and nationalism, grin with contentment.

Home minister Rajnath Singh must realise that talking too much about Pakistan can be seen as a pathological obsession. PTIHome minister Rajnath Singh must realise that talking too much about Pakistan can be seen as a pathological obsession. PTI

Home minister Rajnath Singh must realise that talking too much about Pakistan can be seen as a pathological obsession. PTI

It would seem that each time a BJP leader puts one foot in his mouth, Gandhi shoves both his feet in his mouth faster than you can imagine. But the picture of one foot-in-mouth isn’t any prettier than that of two.

That Pakistan is trying to divide India is a fact too well-known to be worthy of repetition, especially by a member of the government as highly placed as Singh.

We all know that the very purpose of Pakistan exporting terror to India – with the same ease as it exports cement, leather, almonds and such things to our country – is not to have some gory fun or to enjoy a real life snakes-and-ladders game, but to disrupt and divide India.

Singh didn’t say it, but we are aware that Pakistan’s ISI has been printing fake Indian currency with great efficiency; stuffing it into the pockets of jehadi thugs who then send it across the border.

Now about Pakistan getting divided into “10 parts”. Whether Pakistan gets truncated into two and a half parts or ten pieces or makes mincemeat of itself, it would seem that it’s none of our damned business. Let Pakistan worry about its problems, and we should worry about ours. And, we have many.

Apart from this, Singh also said:

– that despite repeated failures, India continued to seek peace with Pakistan;

– that even after the Kargil war, Atal Bihari Vajpayee offered friendship to Pakistan;

– that Prime Minister Narendra Modi went out of his way to keep Pakistan in good humour;

– that in return, Pakistan gave India Gurdaspur, Pathankot and Uri;

– that more Islamic sects existed in India than in Pakistan;

– that the jehadis didn’t get as much support in India as they had hoped, because Indian Muslims are loyal to India;

– and that Pakistan is our neighbour and, though one can change friends, one can’t change neighbours.

All these are facts with a ring of finality that brook no repetition. Think of a man running out on the street every morning, screaming that the sky is blue and that the sun rises in the east. He only runs the risk of being considered off his rocker.

Parrot-like repetitions can be somewhat pardonable if they come from lowly officials or party satraps. True statesmen know the worth of silence, aware that a stern look can often be more catastrophic than a shout.

Ask the Chinese. Rarely, if ever, senior Chinese leaders, leave alone President Xi Jinping or Premier Li Keqiang, shoot off with their mouths. They leave that job to spokesmen of their foreign ministry or editorial-writers of China Daily or an academic in a province like Guangdong.

Singh must realise that talking too much about Pakistan can be seen as a certain pathological obsession with that country; an obsession that we accuse Pakistan of having with India.

An obsession with Pakistan, which is one-fourth of India in area, one-sixth in population and which, as the world has certified it, is a rogue nation and a terror-factory means stooping to the depths of an abyss. India has better things to do.

And as for Pakistan’s adventures from across the border, the Indian Army knows what to do. Can we please let the army do its job?

Modi’s polite admonition in October to his party leaders against chest-thumping and speaking out of turn about the surgical strikes has not doused the enthusiasm of many in the BJP – be it Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar or Information & Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu – to talk, talk and talk.

Pardon me for not being able to resist the temptation of recalling a little dialogue between The Lady (Queen Elizabeth) and The Man (Shakespeare) in George Bernard Shaw’s comedy The Dark Lady of the Sonnets:

“The Lady: You talk too much, sir. Let me warn you: I’m more accustomed to be listened to than preached at.

The Man: The most are like that that do talk well. But though you spake with the tongues of angels, as indeed you do, yet know that I am the king of words –

The Lady: A king, ha!”

It seems that the BJP has too many ‘kings of words’, and the party can do without them.

Author tweets @sprasadindia

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 18:48 IST

Karmapa Lama’s visit: China urges India not to ‘complicate’ border dispute

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China called on India on Monday not to do anything to complicate their border dispute after a senior exiled Tibetan religious leader visited a sensitive border region controlled by India but claimed by China. The Karmapa Lama, Tibetan Buddhism’s third-most-senior figure who fled into exile in India in 2000, last week went to Tawang in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, in the remote eastern Himalayas.China disputes the entire territory of Arunachal Pradesh, calling it south Tibet. Its historic town Tawang, a key site for Tibetan Buddhism, was briefly occupied by Chinese forces during a 1962 war. Asked about the trip, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said India was clear about China’s position on the eastern end of their border. “We hope the Indian side can respect the relevant consensus of both sides, and not take any actions that may complicate the border issue,” Lu told a daily news briefing.Maintaining peace and stability on the border and the healthy development of relations was in both parties interests, he added. Leaders of Asia’s two giants pledged last year to cool their festering border dispute, which dates back to their brief 1962 border war.India is home to a large exiled Tibetan community, including spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who China reviles as a separatist. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning monk says he simply wants genuine autonomy for his homeland.

Chinese government reacts to WION expose

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China’s Defence Ministry has rejected accusations of military activity deep inside eastern Afghanistan, after a report by WION last month about regular patrols by Chinese security forces there.”Reports in foreign media of Chinese military vehicles patrolling inside Afghanistan do not accord with the facts,” Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told the Reuters news agency.”In recent years, law enforcement bodies from China and Afghanistan, in accordance with a bilateral cooperation decision on strengthening border law enforcement, arranged to have joint law enforcement operations in border regions,” Yang added.Speaking to Reuters, an unidentified Afghan official in Kabul also denied the reports.Last month, WION obtained exclusive pictures showing Chinese-manufactured military vehicles in Little Pamir. The slim finger of Afghan territory borders China, Pakistan, Tajikistan and India’s Jammu and Kashmir state.International military analysts backed up the claims.”The pictures show Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) and Humvee-type vehicles. Both appear to be Chinese versions of common Western armoured vehicles,” Justin Bronk, a Senior Analyst at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London, told WION.From the photographs alone, analysts could not confirm whether the Chinese-manufactured vehicles belong to the China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) itself.But sources in the area say the PLA enter Little Pamir twice a month through Tajikistan. The troops reportedly stay in a local school in Bozai Gumbaz and are barred from speaking to local Afghan citizens.The exact motivations behind the patrols are not known but Chinese firms hold key mining concessions across Afghanistan. Control over its western frontier is also a key security concern for the land-focused Chinese military.

India taking ‘softer line’ towards Sirisena govt: Former Sri Lanka Prez Rajapaksa

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has accused India of taking a softer line towards the Maithripala Sirisena government over its policies towards China, as he embarked on a week-long visit to Beijing to meet top Chinese leadership.Ahead of his trip to China on the invitation of the Chinese government, Rajapaksa while talking to reporters yesterday recalled the “tensions” his administration encountered with India.Recalling an incident where Chinese submarines had docked at the Colombo port, the former President said, “They (India) were furious when submarines docked at Colombo. From what I know, the Chinese inform the Indian embassy in Beijing before a submarines enters the Indian Ocean. But they made a huge cry about it.”On the contrary, he said, India is now silent as the present government of his successor Maithripala Sirisena handing over to China the port in Hambantota.China was Rajapaksa’s main international ally when it supported him at international fora and funded his mega development projects, mainly in his home district of Hambantota. “They (New Delhi) made a big issue about the submarines, but today even if you give the entire port (to China), it is not a problem for them (India). This shows the difference in diplomatic relations,” he said, accusing India of taking a softer line towards the Sirisena government. “The government is trying to give land from Trincomalee to India. To China from Hambantota. They are trying to give 1,000 acres to Japan to grow vegetables,” he said.During his week-long visit to China, Rajapaksa will meet the leaders of the Chinese Government on November 28 and is scheduled to stay in Guangzou and Beijing. He will visit the Dafo Monastery, free trade zones and the city of Shenzen. The former president is accompanied by Parliamentarian Lohan Ratwatte, former foreign minister Prof GL Peiris and others. Rajapaksa’s visit to China assumes much significance in the wake of a recent public spat between Beijing and Colombo.Chinese Ambassador Yi Xianliang called a rare press conference and criticised Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake for his statement that Chinese had lent money to Rajapaksa government at high rates of interest. Ambassador Yi said minister Ravi Karunanayake was asking for more Chinese loans after publicly criticising the Chinese funding as “expensive loans.”The Sri Lankan finance minister said he was happy to pay back Chinese loans at 2 per cent if the Ambassador says he would be happy to lower the interest rates.

Pakistan ‘apprises’ China of ‘grave’ situation in Kashmir: Foreign Office

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan on Monday “apprised” China about the “grave” humanitarian situation in Kashmir and hoped the global community will play its role in calling on India to put an end to the “blatant” rights violations in the Valley.The issue was discussed between Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry and Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou, who is on a two-day visit to Pakistan.During the bilateral meeting, the USD 46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and regional and global issues of mutual concern were discussed, the Foreign Office said.Chaudhry apprised Kong of “the grave humanitarian situation” in Kashmir. “He expressed the hope that the international community would play its role in calling on India to put an end to blatant human rights violations in the Valley,” it said.The two sides agreed to remain engaged and strengthen cooperation for the mutual benefit of the two countries.Chaudhry also briefed Kong on the latest situation in Afghanistan. He underscored the imperatives of reaching a sustainable and lasting peace in Afghanistan through reconciliation and dialogue, it said.The two sides agreed that the international community should remain engaged with Afghanistan, especially through the Quadrilateral Consultative Group (QCG) in support of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned political reconciliation.Kong briefed Chaudhry “noted” that timely completion of CPEC’s early-harvest projects would significantly uplift of the region and improve regional connectivity.The Chinese official also called on Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz.Aziz underscored the importance that Pakistan attaches to its ties with China and called for regular high-level exchanges.Kong thanked Pakistan for its consistent and strong support on issues of vital interest to China. He also reaffirmed China’s continued support to Pakistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.Acknowledging the sacrifices rendered by Pakistan in fighting terrorism and extremism, he assured China’s full support against these menaces.

Demonetisation: Dear Rs 100 note, please accept our apologies for taking you for granted

Dear honoured, esteemed, revered hundred rupee note sirji,

I have to say I am ashamed of the way we have treated you in the recent past. The way we have badmouthed you and sat around discussing how you were incapable of getting us anything worthwhile.

Tossed you into a dark and dingy corner of our minds with none to do you reverence. Ha! A hundred rupee note, what a cruel joke, how far does it go, not even worth peanuts.

Sorry for taking you for granted.Sorry for taking you for granted.

Sorry for taking you for granted.

We scoffed you for sure and you waited your turn. I always had a sneaky feeling you would make a comeback from the glorious days of the seventies and eighties and we could see a movie in ‘dress circle’ for Rs 4.40 and buy coffee at the Taj for Rs 10 and a whole family could live off you for a week in comparative luxury. A tin of pure ghee was Rs 6 and four of us could have Chinese dinner for one of you with tip included.

We joined the Times as journalists in 1969 on five of you a month and we lived damn well and three of you could fly us from Mumbai to Delhi. And a bottle of rum cost Rs 8. Ho! ho! ho!

I am not pumping sunshine (of course I am), but I always felt that after you had faded into oblivion and counted for nothing but chump change that you would make a comeback and what a comeback it has been.

Not even in your heydays have you been so coveted and so much in demand today what with everyone chasing you and wanting you to fetch up in their lives.

It must be a wonderful feeling and I am so happy for you.

Just to have you in our pockets is such a warm, fuzzy sensation.

Please do not see this as sucking up to you (which it blatantly is but I cannot admit it) but I have always been one of your well-wishers and I still give my sister only Rs 100 on Rakhi (in your honour, not because I am downright stingy) and you are always welcome to bring all your siblings and stay with us. Come in your thousands and we will find room for you.

In fact, so moved am I by your resurrection that I wish to publicly extend to you my humble apologies for the past misconduct and for treating you badly. It was entirely shortsighted and all I can say is may there be more and more of you — ‘phoolo jeeyo’ with abandon.

India needs you (I need you) and woe to those who were nasty about you and disrespected you. I have always been a fan and a supporter as you can see by the fact that I was always placed one of you in the donation box at the mandir as a sign of my respect for your glorious history.

Even as I conceal my transparent servility and abject, craven sycophancy beneath a cloak of goodwill, all I want to say is that you are worth more than your bigger brothers and I’d rather have twenty of you than one of them.

Once again, please accept my regret for the many times that I foolishly took you for granted and I confess that when in 2012 I lost one of you I did not mean to say ‘no big deal’ that was just a turn of phrase and if you come to our house in Delhi today we have made a garland out of you and greet you each morning with folded hands.

Please do not desert us in this time of need.

First Published On : Nov 20, 2016 14:01 IST

India should speed up commitments in Chabahar port as China renews interest

During his recent visit to Japan, Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe welcomed the prospects of cooperation between the two countries for promoting peace and prosperity in South Asia and neighbouring region such as Iran and Afghanistan.

President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani (R), Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi (L) and President of Iran Hassan Rouhani (C). Getty Images  (Photo by Pool / Iran Presidency/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani (R), Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi (L) and President of Iran Hassan Rouhani (C). Getty Images  (Photo by Pool / Iran Presidency/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani (R), Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi (L) and President of Iran Hassan Rouhani (C). Getty Images
(Photo by Pool / Iran Presidency/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

This, as agreed upon by both the countries, would be done through bilateral and trilateral cooperation, inter-alia, in the development of infrastructure and connectivity for Chabahar, the port in southeastern Iran, directing their officials to expeditiously work out details for such a cooperation.

The trilateral engagement between India, Iran and Afghanistan during the visit of PM Modi’s visit to Iran in May 2016 was historic, expanding avenues of trade for India with Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia and Russia through the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC). Chabahar is Iran’s only oceanic port and consists of two separate ports named ‘Shahid Kalantari’ and ‘Shahid Beheshti’, each of which has five berths – overall 10 berths. India and Iran first agreed upon plans to further develop ‘Shahid Beheshti’ port in 2003, but India was deterred by sanctions against Iran. Under the Indo-Iranian agreement of May 2016, India would refurbish one of the berths at ‘Shahid Beheshti’, and reconstruct a 600-meter long container handling facility at the port. The bilateral agreement between India and Iran gives India the right to develop two berths of the Chabahar port as agreed in 2015, allowing them to be operated for 10 years by India Ports Global, which is a joint venture between Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Kandla Port Trust, in partnership with Iran’s Aria Banader.

Along with the development of Chahabar port, India is also to construct a railway line linking Chahabar with Zahedan on the Iran-Afghanistan border, which beyond Zahedan will be linked to the Iranian Railway running west and then north close to the Iran-Afghanistan border, avoiding the volatile Helmand Province of Afghanistan.

India’s development of Chabahar will be at a cost of $85 million over the course of 18 months. Upon completion of upgrade works as agreed to in May 2016, Chabahar’s capacity will be increased to 8 million tonnes from the current 2.5 million tonnes capacity. India’s investment is supplemented with a $150 million credit line to Iran through Exim Bank of India. India has also offered to supply $400 million worth of steel towards the construction of the rail link Chabahar-Zahedan.

Chabahar port and the INSTC give India the strategic access for trade with Afghanistan and Eurasia, faced with denial of the land route by Pakistan. Recent operationalising of Gwadar port, as also the CPEC, makes this even more significant. Gwadar port has been leased for operations to a Chinese company (read China) for 49 years. In December 2011, regional Pakistani newspapers reported Chinese military taking over Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan considering leasing Gilgit-Baltistan to China for 50 years. In all probability, this would have happened secretly, what with Chinese digging 22 tunnels in this area capable of housing strategic weapons.

Though China wants India to join CPEC, it gives advantage India without opening the land access to Afghanistan. Conversely, such a move would raise the enormous India-China bilateral trade balance even more in China’s favour. Recent reservations shown by Pakistani senators against India joining CPEC could well be ruse to lure India joining the CPEC, thereby legitimising Chinese presence and projects in Gilgit-Baltistan, which is Indian territory.

It is not just blockading India’s NSG membership, protecting Masood Azhar at UN or denying visa to India’s badminton team manager on grounds he hails from Arunachal Pradesh, the Chinese stance indicates constraining India at every opportunity. India may feel there is enough space for both India and China to grow economically but China doesn’t feel that way at all, as demonstrated time and again by her. Iran’s recent refusal to accept the proposal by ONGC Videsh to develop Iran’s Farzad-B oilfield at a cost of $10 billion doesn’t bode well. This agreement was to be signed in October 2016. The 12.8 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves named Farzad-B was discovered by a consortium of OVL, Oil India Ltd and Indian Oil Corporation in 2008. Though India is still hopeful of pulling off the deal by February 2017, Iran’s action may have been influenced by China.

In 2011, Beijing and Tehran signed a deal giving China exclusive rights to multiple several Iranian oil and gas fields through 2024, including rights to build necessary infrastructures. In return, China promised to treat any foreign attack against these regions as attacks against its own sovereign territory, and defend them as such. China needs no prior permission from the Iranian government to maintain and increase its military presence in Iran and will control the movement of Iranians in and out of these territories. According to Green Experts of Iran, this agreement was the basis for PLA’s General Zhang Zhaozhong stating, “China will not hesitate to protect Iran even with a third World War.” China and Iran aim to increase bilateral trade to $600 billion within the next decade, even though economists feel it is not attainable.

Prior to the Indo-Iranian agreement on Chabahar, Iran had offered the same project to China and Pakistan also in addition to India, with China, Pakistan not responding. But lately Iranians at international forums have been conveying: India agreed to develop Chabahar in 2003 but despite the US being amenable to India doing so, India remained complacent. There are no plans to link Chabahar and Gwadar by road or rail, and China and Pakistan are now evincing interest in developing Chabahar. The implication of this should be very clear. There may be multiple reasons why India refrained from developing Chabahar after agreeing to do so in 2003, but it did emerge in 2015 that there were problems in clearing backlog payments for imported Iranian oil even through European banks because of the sanctions.

The US House of Representatives has now voted to renew the Iran Sanctions Act for an additional 10 years. The act is scheduled to expire by year end, barring its renewal. As of now, there is no word on when the US Senate intends to vote on the extension. However, Iran maintains that even non-nuclear sanctions, particularly the prohibition on Iranian access to the American financial system and use of the dollar discourage foreign companies from investing in Iran, subverts the economic rewards it expected from the nuclear agreement. When India physically commenced developing Chabahar and how much has been completed is not known, but there is clearly need for speed, in addition to quality.

Early leveraging the Indo-Japanese partnership into the project and ironing out problems of fiscal investment, if any, on account of continuing sanctions (of whatever form) is the need of the hour. Considering that the development work by India was to be completed in 18 months, we should actually aim to deliver it by September 2017.

The author is veteran Lieutenant General of the Indian Army.

First Published On : Nov 19, 2016 15:54 IST

India ‘immensely underestimating’ water crunch threat: Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India is “immensely underestimating” the threat of a water crunch despite being a downstream state with China, Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian said in Mumbai on Friday as he made a strong case for the “right pricing” of natural resources.”For India, especially being a downstream state with China, we do underestimate the water resource crunch immensely,” Subramanian said at the Mumbai LitFest, when asked about the impact of finite natural resources like water on economic growth. The northern plains support over 40% of the country’s 1.25 billion people which are supported by perennial rivers originating in upper Himalayas, including Chinese territory.People have “massively” under-priced the usage of natural resources, Subramnaian said and made a case for right pricing, saying this will help solve any potential problems in that regard. “There are things which we as government, communities or individuals can do to try and adjust the problem…and one of them is we try and price them better,” he said.Referring to the high degree of pollution around Diwali time in Delhi which also saw the visit of British Prime Minister Theresa May, he said it was largely due to burning of paddy which gets government incentives. Underlining the need to look at “social externalities” while setting the prices of foodgrains, he said crops like pulses need to be incentivised because they fix nitrogen and consume less fertilisers.Commenting on recent events like Brexit and election of the far-right Donald Trump as US President, Subramanian said he hoped such developments do not take the world to “crude nativism”. However, the senior Finance Ministry official, otherwise known to be very vocal with his views, chose not to comment when asked about demonetization.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: ‘Highway of Terror’ turns operational at last

On 13 November, the under-development China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) became operational in the sense that the first convoy of trucks laden with Chinese goods traversing the CPEC’s 3,000-kilometre journey from Kashgar in China arrived at Gwadar and was further seen off in a Chinese ship from Gwadar to West Asia and Africa. Pakistan’s top civilian and military leaders were reportedly present at Gwadar to see off the Chinese ship.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stated that Pakistan will provide the best possible security to foreign investors to enable them to use Gwadar for international trade. As per current plans, the CPEC is to absorb $46 billion of Chinese investment — $11 billion from the Chinese government and the remaining $35 billion from private companies in China. Pakistan expects its GDP to rise because of the CPEC and for 700,000 jobs to be created for Pakistanis.

File image of Pakistan's Gwadar Port. AFP

File image of Pakistan’s Gwadar Port. AFP

There is no denying that Chinese infrastructure development is very quick, whether in terms of the railway line to Lhasa and to Hairatan on the Afghanistan-Uzbekistan border (inaugurated on 7 September), the One-Belt-One-Road system, communications in Tibet, multiple gas and oil pipelines or the CPEC itself. Gwadar Port has been developed in record time by a Chinese company with China bearing the complete cost for its development; gratis to Pakistan. The road link from Karachi to Gwadar too was developed speedily. No Pakistani can enter Gwadar Port (guarded by the PLA) without a valid ID card. Pakistan is responsible for the security of the CPEC with all costs to be borne by Islamabad. The country has in fact has raised additional forces specifically to guard the CPEC, with a major portion of this special security force deployed in Balochistan.

There was commotion in Pakistan when then minister of Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan announced in 2011 that the US had been asked to vacate the Shamsi airbase even though the US had already ceased all operations from Shamsi three months earlier, after the Raymond Davis affair. Calls of national pride getting hurt were raised in letting a foreign power use Pakistani soil. But it finally emerged that Shamsi was built by Arab sheikhs for falcon-hunting in the early 1990s but had been occupied by the CIA since at least 2004, when Google Earth images showed Predator drones parked on the runway.

Confirmation came during the 13 May, 2011 joint session of Pakistan’s Parliament (held in camera) that the Shamsi airbase was under the purview of the UAE and not under the control of the Pakistani Air Force. Obviously, the civil-military hierarchy received hefty sums for handing over Shamsi to the UAE, as would have Nawaz and Raheel Sharif for bartering Pakistan’s sovereignty to China in exchange for Gwadar and the CPEC. Interestingly, Nawaz was also Prime Minister of Pakistan in the early 1990s.

According to analysts, economically it is 11 times cheaper to transport the same goods by sea even to and from China than through the CPEC, although the sea journey is longer. Of course, the CPEC is the alternative to China’s Malacca Dilemma should the Straits of Malacca be choked. The question here is whether the Malacca Dilemma is created by China on purpose and hyped for consumption by the Chinese people? If China’s intentions are ‘peaceful’ as bandied about perpetually and the world is for freedom of navigation and global commons, under what circumstances would the Straits of Malacca, and even Sunda Straits, be blocked for Chinese commercial ships and its navy, and for what duration?

Besides, how the blocking of these straits, especially the Straits of Malacca will adversely impact international trade of most countries of the world is another issue.

A closer examination would indicate that such an eventuality is highly unlikely, even with the Indian Ocean veering towards becoming the centre of gravity for future conflict, given the lethality and reach of modern era weaponry.

Under cover of economic activity for “mutual benefit” and “good for the region”, what China will never admit is that the CPEC is China’s Strategic Highway to the Indian Ocean. The Chinese are masters at strategic deception: Talk peace, prepare for war and conceal true intentions. The CPEC became even more important when Myanmar denied China the use of its territory for a similar strategic purpose. China keeps harping for India to join the CPEC but on the question of land access for India to Afghanistan and Central Asia, Beijing responds that the CPEC is only a bilateral arrangement with Pakistan.

The obvious intention is to keep India restrained, plus if the CPEC is only a ‘bilateral’ arrangement then why the façade of asking India to join it? Clearly, Gwadar is a future Chinese ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) base, which together with the Pakistani naval bases of Karachi and Omari to which China has access, would challenge India at sea.

File image of Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif. AP

File image of Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif. AP

But what should also be of most concern is the Chinese history of creating ‘depth’ to whatever it considers vital in strategic terms. Immediately, on ousting the Kuomintang regime, Mao Tse Tung announced, “Tibet is the palm of China and Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and North East Frontier Agency are its fingers”. Tibet was annexed by China also because it comprises 26 percent of China’s land and is the country’s water tower. Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia were captured to provide a buffer to the mainland. China captured 38,000 square kilometres of Jammu and Kashmir to give adequate depth to its Western Highway.

Going by the same analogy, what would be the Chinese strategy for providing ‘depth’ to the CPEC running through Pakistan (from North to South), which itself is obsessed about strategic depth? Moreover, the CPEC is running through Gilgit-Baltistan that is afflicted with public dissatisfaction and shifting it West is not possible because of the highly volatile FATA region. But most of the CPEC can’t avoid Balochistan where insurgency simmers because of the Pakistani genocide.

Under the circumstances, the CPEC can become the target of terror attacks. So what better strategy to provide depth to the CPEC but through sub-conventional operations (read terror attacks)? And precisely this appears to have been operationalised. China has deep links with Taliban even the membership based in Qatar, while Pakistan has a hold on both Talibans (through the Haqqani Network chief Sirajuddin Haqqani). The Islamic State in Afghanistan-Pakistan is the creation of Pakistan, and most importantly, all Pakistani proxies are also Chinese proxies. That is why with the strategic-yet-covert lodgment of the PLA in PoK and Pakistan, terror attacks in Afghanistan and violence in Jammu and Kashmir (including ceasefire violations by Pakistan) have shot up exponentially.

The Pakistani objective of carving out more Afghan territory for strategic depth (implying influence at sub-conventional level) is in sync with China’s strategic designs. Pakistan’s growing hostility towards India suits China similarly. Repeated terror attacks in Balochistan aids Pakistani designs to subdue the Balochi population and eliminate as many non-Sunnis as possible.

Terror attacks against Balochis suit China very well too as it discourages Balochi insurgents from any feeble attempts to disrupt the CPEC which is guarded by the Pakistani Army.

On balance, the CPEC has by default or design become a “Highway of Terror” – more for exporting terror than being subjected to terror attacks.

The author is a veteran Lieutenant-General of the Indian Army

First Published On : Nov 16, 2016 12:01 IST

China’s first aircraft carrier ‘combat ready’: Officials say

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China’s first aircraft carrier is now ready for combat, a key breakthrough for a navy that has been trying to flex its muscles far beyond its shores amid territorial disputes with several neighbouring countries.The Liaoning carrier, made from an empty hull of a Soviet era ship, recently left its shipyard in Qingdao in east China to start a new training mission to test its combat capacity as it is prepared to “fight against enemies”. The construction of China’s second indigenously-built aircraft carrier is already underway at a feverish pitch.Liaoning, which had previously been described in Chinese media as a surface platform for tests and training, has now “formally been described as having a real combat capacity,” the state-run Global Times said.”As a military force, we are always combat ready and our combat capacity also needs to be tested by war. At this moment, we are doing our best to promote our strength and use it to prevent war. But we are preparing for actual combat at any time,” Senior Captain Li Dongyou, the political commissar of the vessel, told the daily.The refurbished ship was launched by former president Hu Jintao in 2012.There are more than 1000 non-commissioned officers (NCOs) on the Liaoning, and they are the main part of China’s aircraft carrier. “Among them, we have 42 Chief Petty Officers with an average age of 40 and experience of serving in the navy for more than 20 years,” Li said.”Weaponry is the key for combat capability on the carrier. As China’s first generation of NCOs on the carrier, these officers’ capability on how to operate, repair and maintain equipment is irreplaceable. And they are the source of our confidence,” Li said.The report did not elaborate on how China plans to use the carrier, but Liaoning is seen as to put more muscle behind the Communist giant’s increasing assertive moves in the South China Sea, where territorial claims by neighbouring nations have dogged China’s expansionist idea, and where it faces challenges from the US.The South China sea, through which $5 trillion of trade passes annually, has been a centre of dispute between China and Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.”As a combat platform, China still lags behind the US in technology and capability to execute missions, but three senior US officials who visited the Liaoning before all gave a positive evaluation on the management of the carrier – officers and soldiers’ daily lives and training are well organised and the equipment maintenance is fine,” Li said.Chinese media reports have said that as the construction of the second aircraft carrier picked up pace, China has stepped up preparations to deploy the first carrier force by putting in place a new batch of carrier-based fighter pilots.With plans to build two more carriers, the PLA as built up its largest carrier-based pilot team after more than three years of intensive training, media reports had said in August.Speculation is rife that China may deploy one of the aircraft carriers in the South China Sea.

India will not become a ‘pawn’ for Japan: Chinese media

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India will not become a “pawn” for Japan to contain China, a Chinese state-run media today said, accusing Japan of exploiting Sino-India disputes for its own interests.”Japan wants to use the disputes between China and India to court India to help contain China. Japan seeks to urge India to meddle in the South China Sea issue, even at the cost of changing its long-held position of reducing nuclear usage to offer special benefits of civil nuclear cooperation to India,” Global Times said in an editorial on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-day visit to Japan. “Looking at Japan’s diplomatic policies over the past few years, (Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo) Abe administration has become more active trying to sway regional powers to encircle China,” the daily said.It said that India is in need of acquiring nuclear and military technology from Japan and attracting more investment for its manufacturing industries and infrastructure, like high-speed railways.The daily, however, said that India is not likely to change its position according to the wishes of Japan. “India takes a multilateral approach to diplomacy and pursues a status as a leading power. Japan’s plans are full of antagonism, which contradict India’s policies. Therefore India will practically assess specific cooperation with Japan case by case,” the daily said.”India will not become a pawn for Japan to contain China, as it wants to become a power on par with China and Japan and benefit from both sides. India will get closer to Japan but will not enter into a brotherhood relationship,” it said.The editorial, which was apparently written before India and Japan issued joint statement yesterday, said that “both sides hinted they would include the South China Sea Arbitration in their joint statement”.India and Japan yesterday sought a peaceful solution to the territorial disputes in the strategic South China Sea, saying parties involved in the matter must not resort to “threat or use of force”, in remarks that could anger China which is opposed to any outside interference.There is no official reaction by China yet about the outcome of Modi’s visit, but ahead of his visit Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told media that New Delhi and Tokyo should respect the legitimate concerns of their neighbours.A Chinese state media report on Wednesday warned India that it may suffer “great losses” in bilateral trade if it joins Japan in asking China to abide by an international tribunal’s ruling quashing Beijing’s claims over the SCS.China has been making aggressive advances in the strategic region – parts of which are also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei – by rapidly building artificial islets that experts fear could be potentially used as military posts.

India will suffer great losses if it joins Japan on SCS, warns China’s state media

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India may suffer “great losses” in bilateral trade if it joins Japan during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to ask China to abide by an international tribunal’s ruling quashing Beijing’s claims over disputed South China Sea (SCS), Chinese media warned on Wednesday.”India should beware of the possibility that by becoming embroiled in the disputes, it might end up being a pawn of the US and suffer great losses, especially in terms of business and trade, from China,” an oped article in state-run Global Times said.Citing media reports that India is seeking support from Tokyo during Modi’s visit to Japan this week to issue a joint statement asking China to abide by July ruling of the tribunal on the SCS, it said, “India and China should put more efforts into resolving problems like the imbalance of their trade ties”.”India won’t benefit much by balancing China through Japan. It will only lead to more mistrust between New Delhi and Beijing,” it said.”India’s proposal to make new waves in the SCS first came to Singapore last month, but Singapore, a master of the rebalancing strategy, snubbed it. The rejection shows India lacks legitimacy and leadership in making new waves in the SCS,” the article said.It also pointed out that with the recent visit to China of Rodrigo Duterte, the new President of Philippines, the country that filed arbitration case against Beijing, the SCS dispute “passed pinnacle of tensions”.”India should realise that the SCS disputes have passed the pinnacle of tensions after the announcement of the arbitration result, and some involved parties have begun to reflect on their old way of addressing the disputes – creating conflicts without seeking productive bilateral negotiations.The Philippines, once a major aggressive claimant against China, has restored its relationship with China,” it said.The article which comes in the backdrop of recent meeting at Hyderabad between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi said India wants to scale up its stand on the SCS in retaliation to Beijing blocking India’s bid to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).”India knows that it is not yet qualified for membership in the NSG, according to the organisation’s rules. China’s decision was simply a fulfillment of its international duties.It is preposterous for Indian media and government to scapegoat China as a troublemaker, and seek revenge by making more troubles,” it said.”As a non-claimant to the South China Sea and an outsider that has no traditional influence on the region, India has been paying keen attention to any activity, because the country has adopted a ‘Look East’ foreign policy since Modi took office,” the article said.”India, however, seems to have overestimated its leverage in the region. Although China’s major rivals in the dispute, such as the US and Japan, have been trying to draw India into their camp, the country will be likely regarded as having a token role,” it said.The article said as “regional major power in Asia, India does not feel at ease with China, a larger and more powerful neighbour”.”It admires China’s imposing changeover, especially its economic takeoff, but it has never relaxed its wariness of China’s rise,” it said, adding that “the complicated feelings could drive India to make mistakes in its China policy”.Another article in the same daily – titled ‘India won t be Japan s geopolitical tool’ – criticised Japan for relaxing its rules to sign a civil nuclear deal with India.”India has refused to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and meanwhile possesses nuclear weapons. Under this situation, selling nuclear technology to New Delhi will taint Tokyo’s reputation of advocating for a nuclear weapons-free world. In fact, Abe is using international law as a tool to safeguard his self- interest, only referring to it to satisfy his needs. Japan is so pragmatic in its diplomacy. The technology agreements are de facto political deals between Japan and India,” it said.It also questioned the bullet train agreement between the two countries. “Given Japan’s costly high-speed technology and India’s relatively under-developed economy, whether the rail project will produce profits is unknown,” it said.China is also bidding for building high speed train network in India and is currently conducting a feasibility study for Delhi-Chennai railway corridor.For Japan and India, technological cooperation will enhance their cooperation in security, a critical way for Japan to contain China’s growing strength, it said.”But containing China is not Modi’s ultimate purpose.Despite its rapid economic growth, India’s development is still backward in many ways. What Modi therefore cares most about is reviving the nation’s economy and enhancing its strength,” it said.”India has no intention and cannot afford to join Japan and contain China since it needs China’s investment and financial support for development. However, considering its disputes with China, India to some extent wants to use Japan to bargain with China.”What Modi wants is to benefit from Tokyo and Beijing when they are at odds, like Duterte has done. Hence the so-called Japan-India cooperation is a tool for the two sides to use each other for political gains,” it said.At present, top leaders in some East and South Asian countries like Japan, India, Myanmar and the Philippines, are tough in their domestic policies to develop and upgrade their industries, it said.”This has given China an opportunity to break US-Japan containment and expand its influences. If China can share common interests with India as emerging industrial countries, it will counterbalance the mutual benefits of India and Japan being democratic countries,” it said.”As emerging countries, China and India have common economic interests in many aspects, and need to jointly face challenges posed by developed countries. How to boost cooperation between China and India is a key issue concerning the economic development of developing countries in the future,” it said.

Third time lucky? India to pitch for Masood Azhar’s placing on UN sanctions list to China again

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India will take up with China the issue of backing New Delhi’s move for placing JeM chief Masood Azhar on the UN sanctions list against individuals and groups linked to terror groups al Qaeda or Islamic State and check illegal supply of arms to insurgents in the northeast.Home Minister Rajnath Singh will also tell Meng Jianzhu, a top aide of Chinese President Xi Jinping, to stop the practice of Beijing issuing stapled visas to people of Arunachal Pradesh and discuss ways of enhancing anti-terror cooperation when the two leaders meet in Delhi over dinner on Tuesday.Meng, Secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China, will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and have talks with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on Wednesday. “All our concerns will be raised before the Chinese leader, who is incharge of internal security of that country,” an official said.China has twice blocked India’s efforts to include Azhar, alleged mistermind of the terror attacks on Pathankot air base and an army camp in Uri, on the UN’s sanctions list containing names of individuals and groups linked to the al Qaeda or Islamic State. New Delhi had expressed concern in the past over the supply of Chinese arms and ammunition to insurgent groups operating in the northeast.India also strongly objected to the practice of China issuing stapled visas to people belonging to Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. The Home Minister and the Chinese leader will discuss how to enhance anti-terror cooperation, issues related to liberalisation of the visa regime and other issues of mutual interest, the official said.On the other hand, if China raises the issue of the Dalai Lama’s proposed visit to Arunachal Pradesh, India will tell the visiting side that the Tibetan spiritual leader is a guest and he is free to visit anywhere in India. Beijing has already objected to the Dalai Lama’s proposed visit to the Arunachal Pradesh, which it claims is a disputed territory.

Visa woes and Brexit: British PM Theresa May must be a trapeze artist during India visit

When she finally arrives in India on Sunday for a three-day visit, British Prime Minister Theresa May will have to do a greater balancing act than even trapeze artists. Amid deepening anxieties and increasing uncertainties ushered in by Brexit (the terms of which got even more complicated due to a British court ruling on Thursday), Britain would like nothing more than to be in a position to strike sweet deals with major trade partner India when it eventually leaves the European Union by 2019.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with British PM Theresa at G20 Summit. Twitter @MEASwarupPrime Minister Narendra Modi with British PM Theresa at G20 Summit. Twitter @MEASwarup

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with British PM Theresa at G20 Summit. Twitter @MEASwarup

Yet, in order to get access to the fastest growing and one of the largest economies in the world, May must find a solution to the biggest conflict that underlines her tenure as a leader: how to keep the wheels of a sagging economy turning by undertaking free-trade agreements with major economies — a key Brexit promise — while acting against her past instincts as a hard-nosed former home secretary who presided over a hawkish immigration policy and explaining to Brexiteers why achieving the net immigration target of below 1,00,000 per year is a ridiculous, self-defeating policy.

Make no mistake, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his key negotiators sit across the table with May and her entourage, liberalisation of UK’s regressive visa policy will be one of the key Indian demands. Short of that, there is every chance that trade negotiations won’t proceed beyond exchanging of Diwali greetings. Complicating the situation for the British PM are a set of two apparently unrelated events, both of which have a strong bearing on the upcoming trade talks.

The first one took place on Thursday when a British court ruled that Brexit referendum isn’t enough to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which formalises exit negotiations and that the government needs parliamentary approval to start the process of leaving the European Union, reports Reuters.

The May government has reacted with dismay, threatening to move the Supreme Court and vowing to stick to the timetable of March 2017 by which she plans to begin divorce negotiations with the EU. But if the Supreme Court upholds the British court verdict then, as Reuters suggests, the British Parliament may have to promulgate a new law to honour the referendum. The ruling has already drawn sharp criticism from ‘Leave’ leaders who accuse power elites and judiciary of trying to ‘subvert the will of the people’.

For India, Indian students and Indian businesses in the UK, the puzzlement over whether the UK will settle for a “soft” or “hard” Brexit just became worse. The court ruling increases the nervousness of Indian investors in UK, who, according to BBC, account for biggest foreign investors in the UK. Data from UK Department of International Trade finds that India invests more in the UK than the rest of the EU combined. Indian businesses are also the third largest job creator in the UK in 2014-15, with about 110,00 people currently employed in Britain by Indian firms.

Any “hard” Brexit or a toughening of the immigration and visa norms will make it infinitely more difficult for Indian businesses to perform in the UK and also go against the interests of Indian students, many of whom are already struggling with the existing norms.

If anything, the scenario became, even more, tougher with the UK on Thursday rolling out a new immigration policy, the terms of which appear specifically tailored to prevent Indian companies in the UK from tapping into India’s skilled white-collar workforce and to discourage Indian students from travelling to the UK for studying.

Under the new visa rules announced by the UK Home Office, reports PTI, anyone applying after 24 November under the Tier 2 intra-company transfer (ICT) category must have a higher salary threshold of £30,000 (Rs 25 lakh) from the earlier £20,800 (Rs 17.4 lakh). The ICT route is used largely by Indian IT companies in Britain, and the UK’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) had found earlier this year that Indian IT workers accounted for nearly 90 percent of visas issued under this route.

Another report in The New Indian Express points out that besides the Tier 2 ICT salary threshold hike, the UK has also increased Tier 2 (general) salary threshold for experienced workers to £25,000, with some exemptions; reducing the Tier 2 (ICT) graduate trainee salary threshold to £23,000 and increasing the number of places to 20 per company per year; and closing the Tier 2 (ICT) skills transfer sub-category.

Not just discouraging Indian companies from hiring skilled Indian workers or putting clamps in place to dissuade the restaurant industry from hire Indian chefs, some of the rules go even to the extent of preventing Indian workers from uniting with their families. Under new rules, as Hindustan Times points out, partners and parents of immigrants applying to extend their stay after 2.5 years in Britain will need to pass a new English language requirement test.

Bear in mind that these rules are in addition to the 2012 ruling (upheld by a UK Appeals Court in 2014) that a worker must have a minimum income threshold above £18,600 a year if he/she wants to bring over his/her partner from abroad, a ruling that many campaigners want to be repealed because it goes against the workers’ right to have a family life.

Interestingly, while the number of Indian students in the UK has gone down from 40,000 to about 20,000 in five years (during Theresa May’s tenure as longest-serving home secretary), data suggests that the number of Chinese students arriving in Britain has grown exponentially during the same period. The difference in policy towards Indian and Chinese students could be explained by the fact that Indians, due to greater synergy with Britain in terms of language and culture, are more likely to look for a job once the study period is over.

May will have a hard time explaining to Indian negotiators the terms of this new policy even as she seeks to woo Indian investors. India’s external affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup has already indicated that these issues, if not addressed, may impact any bilateral trade deals or negotiations.

China not against India’s entry in NSG: Envoy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China on Friday sought to dispel the view that it was against India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).”The notion that China is against India’s entry into NSG is not right. India and China are working together in this regard,” Consul General of China in Kolkata, Zhanwu Ma said. “Entry of any country into the Nuclear Suppliers Group needs certain procedures which are to be followed. It is not that simple,” Ma told reporters here.Asked about China’s stand on Indo-Pak relations, he said his country was neutral. “China is very friendly towards India. Some people do not seem to believe so. Of course, we have differences. But the shared interests outweigh the differences,” the Chinese Consul General said, adding the business relations between the two countries were mutually beneficial.”So far India’s relation with Pakistan is concerned, China’s position is neutral. India and Pakistan should settle the impasse via negotiations only,” he added.

Standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Latent tension between India and China came to the fore on Thursday with Chinese troops blocking construction work of an irrigation canal in vulnerable Demchok area of Ladakh leading to a major stand off with their counterpart Indo-Tibetan Police Force (ITBP).The incident took place on Wednesday in the Demchok sector, located 250km east of Leh, where a MNREGA project is underway to link a village with a hot spring through a canal.The sudden increase in tension comes a day before National Security Advisor Ajit Doval is to meet senior Chinese officials and a days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrated Diwali with ITBP troops in forward Mana region of Uttarakhand.The Chinese troops, sources said, demanded work be stopped as either side needs to take permission before undertaking any construction, a claim disputed by India which says that information about projects needs to be shared only if it is meant for defence purposes.Nearly 55 People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers forcibly stopped construction work of an irrigation canal being built under MNREGA scheme, said sources adding that the stand off is still continuing.Demchok sits at south eastern tip of Ladakh and is very close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC). This was also the location of a major incursion by China two years ago which resulted in a spike in tension between the two countries.The Chinese intrusion led 70 ITBP jawans to fortify the area to prevent their further march into India.These are routine objections which either party seek clarification to whenever there is a construction related activity. The issue is being resolved through established mechanisms, sources said.

Major Indian cities report decline in firecrackers sales, finds survey

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ban on import and sale of Chinese crackers has had little or no effect on domestically-made ones as traders across major cities report poor business owing to anti-cracker campaign run by schools, resident welfare associations and others, Assocham said on Friday.It is not just Chinese crackers, but multiple factors like growing environmental awareness, rising cost of living, growing tendency to save hard-earned money, paucity of time and traffic congestions have dented the business over the years. This is what a majority of the 250 traders surveyed said.There is a sharp sales decline of about 20% year-on-year from the past five years, which have also almost halved. “Banning Chinese firecrackers was a welcome move which was aimed at strengthening the domestic industry. However, growing criticism of bursting crackers and the negative publicity along with rising pollution have eventually faded the growth of firecracker industry,” said D S Rawat, Assocham Secretary General, while releasing the findings.”About hundreds of units in Sivakasi have shut their shop owing to intense campaigns and growing sales of China-made crackers over the years.”Costlier raw materials and inflation have also held back people from buying crackers, a trend for the past few years now, noted the survey. However, many traders nurse hope that last-minute purchase could save the day for them.The industry body interacted with wholesalers, retailers and traders spread across 10 cities of Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Chennai, Dehradun, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Lucknow and Mumbai to gauge enthusiasm and demand for crackers together with the ban impact across India.

Pakistan risks global isolation in purchasing high-tech defence items: Report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As India’s purchasing power and geopolitical influence increases, Pakistan risks increasing global isolation when it comes to purchase of high-tech defence items, an American think-tank has said.”Over the long term, Pakistan may be unable to access the most advanced weapons systems in the global marketplace.Instead, it may have little choice but to continue to rely on Chinese and possibly Russian military systems, which may or may not be the most appropriate for Pakistan’s defence needs,” the Stimson Center said in a report.”Pakistan’s access to high-end technology could be constrained by India’s purchasing power and growing geopolitical influence,” said the report entitled ‘Military Budgets in India and Pakistan: Trajectories, Priorities, and Risks’.American military aid accounted for 21% of Pakistan’s defence spending between 2002-2015, allowing the country to maintain high levels of military spending while easing the burden on its federal budget and overall economy.”The US has begun to gradually downgrade its assistance to Pakistan in the near to medium term,” it said, adding that the support in Washington for the bilateral relationship has declined as Pakistan seems unable or unwilling to address concerns about violent extremist groups that direct their focus to Afghanistan and India.India is a larger and more attractive market for global defense companies, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, the report said, adding that the country has become the world’s largest arms importer.India accounted for 14 percent of global arms imports from 2011-2015, a 90% increase over the previous five years.”Countries and companies who otherwise would be interested in having a defence relationship with Pakistan may be reluctant to do so out of concerns about falling out of favor in New Delhi,” the report said.”In the long run, Pakistan will have to make tough choices about purchasing big-ticket weapons systems unless it can do so at concessionary rates,” it said.The “almost-certain decline” in military and financial support from the United States will force Pakistan to carry a greater share of its defence spending, it said.According to the report, Pakistan cannot compete with India when it comes to military expenditure, which is why it might step up spending in nuclear weaopns.However, it warned that investments in nuclear weapons at the expense of conventional capabilities would weaken Pakistan’s ability to deal with counter terrorism challenges inside the country.Pakistan, it said, cannot match India conventionally in the long term, and any attempt to do so will exhaust its economy, it said.”Responding to adverse defense spending trends with increased reliance on nuclear weapons, especially short-range weapons, may be a cost effective approach, but it is likely to diminish Pakistan s national security.”The report said Pakistan’s defense budget is higher than official estimates. “Although Pakistan has increased the transparency of its defense spending in recent years, the country’s budget documents raise more questions than answers.” India spends at least four percent of its defense budget on nuclear weapons, while nuclear weapons account for at least 10 percent of Pakistan’s military spending.In 2016, Pakistan will spend at least US $747 million on nuclear weapons, and India will spend US $1.9 billion.Pakistan, it said, cannot match India conventionally in the long term, and any attempt to do so will exhaust its economy.

Outfit in Goa starts campaign against Chinese firecrackers because China is ‘supporting Pakistan’

Panaji: Ahead of Diwali festivities, a local outfit Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) has started a campaign against Chinese firecrackers across Goa.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The HJS activists are touring all cities of the coastal state and requesting traders selling Chinese firecrackers not to put them on the shelves “for the sake of the nation”.

“When you buy Chinese firecracker, you are helping economy of China, who is our enemy because they are supporting Pakistan. Purchasing Chinese firecracker means funding people who kill our soldiers,” alleged HJS Goa Coordinator Manoj Solanki.

“When we educate people against buying Chinese fire crackers it serves two purpose. One is that we desist from supporting economy of China and we also save the environment. The pollution levels go high during Diwali due to burning of fire crackers,” he said.

According to Solanki, HJS is also requesting traders to boycott other products which are ‘Made in China’ and go for “Swadeshi” items.

However, a member of an industry body in the state believes that the campaign will not impact much as sale of firecrackers is an “unorganised business”.

“The containers of firecrackers arrive in Mumbai from where they are brought to Goa by road. There is no exact record of how many of them actually arrive in the state,” said Manguirish Pai Raikar, member and former president, Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI).

Goa does not have homegrown industry producing firecrackers except for few families in Mardol village near Ponda town.

Raikar claimed those families too are now dwindling as fire crackers are either imported from China or Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu.

RSS national executive: Surgical strikes to Ram Mandir, old and new issues dominate meet

It was a mixed bag of old and new issues that dominated the three-day national annual executive meet of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal Baithak (ABKM) in Hyderabad.

While it continued to repeat its view on age-old topics such as ‘Gau Raksha’ and Ram Mandir, some new issues such as Surgical strikes against Pakistan and Chinese goods showed that the organisation was in sync with the changing times.

On one hand, the Sangh reiterated that the Ram Mandir will be built in Ayodhya, on the other, it strongly condemned violence by radical jihadi elements in the country.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat with other RSS members. AFPRSS chief Mohan Bhagwat with other RSS members. AFP

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat with other RSS members. AFP

Referring to communal violence by radical jihadi elements in Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, and inaction by the ruling establishments, the Sangh demanded urgent action against the perpetrators.

The RSS has alleged that in several southern states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka, jihadi elements have unleashed violent attacks against Hindus, especially on Swayamsevaks (RSS workers).

Urging the state governments to take strong action against the culprits, the RSS alleged that the violent incidents indicate a nexus between the radicalised elements in southern states and the international terrorist outfits like Islamic State (IS). “It’s evident from the recent arrests of such elements in Kerala and Telangana,” the Sangh said.

Slamming the Left for unleashing brutal attacks on Sangh activists, the RSS alleged that the CPI(M) cadre in Kerala has been indulging in politically motivated murders of RSS and BJP workers.

On the concluding day, the RSS Sarkaryavah (general secretary) Suresh ‘Bhaiyyaji’ Joshi, who had presided over the three-day meet made the Sangh’s stand clear on some of the major political, social and economic issues.

On Ram Mandir

The RSS said that the issue of Ram Mandir is close to the heart of Hindu society and has been in Sangh’s focus for over 30 years. Mincing no words, Sangh’s general secretary made it clear that the Ram temple would be built in Ayodhya.

“After the Allahabad High Court judgment, it’s clear that Ram Mandir should be built in Ayodhya. However, we are waiting for the Supreme Court to deliver its verdict,” said Joshi.

On Gau Raksha (Cow protection)

Gauraksha shouldn’t be viewed only from a religious angle but we must also take into consideration desi-gau (Desi Cow) forms the backbone of Bharat’s rural economy. Deterioration of soil due to excessive use of pesticides can be addressed only by cow-based farming,” asserted Joshi.

On Minority issue

Referring to the Indian Constitution’s “We the people of India”, the Sangh wanted to clear its stand on minority-majority issue that’s plaguing the nation at present. It said as the Constitution doesn’t make any distinction between a minority and a majority, this issue doesn’t find a place in our constitution. “By twisting the meaning, we have ended up in minority-majority politics,” the RSS said.

On Triple Talaq and Uniform Civil Code

The Sangh’s stand on the current debate on triple talaq was that it’s an internal problem of the Muslim community, but it added that the judiciary should take a humane approach while deliberating on the issue. “Discrimination based on gender is not right. It’s a challenge for the society to safeguard the interest of women, and the society should review it closely. On uniform civil code, the law must be upheld without discrimination and without disturbing cultural traditions and social fabric,” remarked Joshi.

On politicisation of surgical strikes

The Sangh has expressed its strong support for the government’s decision of conducting the surgical strikes at Pakistan-occupied Kashmir against the militants in September, but condemned the politicisation of the strike.

“For national security, the government took a strong decision (of a surgical strike) and the Army bravely executed it. We congratulate both the army and the government for their decisive strike to ensure country’s security,” Joshi said.

On Chinese goods

Emphasising strongly on using swadeshi (indigenous) goods, the RSS said that not only Chinese, but India must find an alternative to all forms of imported goods. Except for those ones having no alternative, use of indigenous (Bharatiya) goods should be encouraged.

On Pakistani artists

The country recently witnessed a major uproar after Raj Thakre’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) opposed the participation of Pakistani actors in Hindi films in Bollywood. Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil has been given permission to be screened with a rider that henceforth no Pakistani artists would be allowed to act in any Indian film.

Referring to it, the RSS maintained, “Art is universal and so is an artist’s domain. However, when the artist refuses to respect our country, why should he or she (actor) be allowed?”

On Deendayal Upadhyaya’s philosophy

Commemorating the birth centenary of Sangh ideologue and thinker Pt Deendayal Upadhyaya, the RSS said that the solution to present global crisis lies in his philosophy of ‘Integral humanism’.

ABKM’s objective

ABKM is one of Sangh’s highest policy formulation and decision-making bodies. The objective of the meeting was to review and engage in future planning of organisational matters and activities.

The three-day meet inaugurated by RSS chief (Sarsanghchalak) Mohan Bhagwat on 23 October held its multiple sessions on the campus of Vidya Vihar High School at Annojiguda in Hyderabad.

Nearly 400 Sangh functionaries including Sanghchalak (president), Karyavah (secretary), Pracharaks (organising secretaries) heading state units and functionaries from RSS affiliate bodies like Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Swadeshi Jagran Manch, etc participated in the three-day-long brainstorming sessions.

“During the meeting, besides discussions on national issues, resolutions on a few key national issues were reportedly passed. The reports of activities of all the organisations and affiliates were submitted in the meeting and state wise activities were reviewed,” an RSS source said.

Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh, Manmohan Vaidya said, “RSS conducts three important national level meetings every year – Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (March), Prant Pracharak Baithaks (July) and Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal before Diwali festival. In 2009, Sangh took an initiative to spread its shakhas and at present about 55,000 shakhas are run across the country. While 65 percent of the swayamsevaks are undergoing daily training at shakhas are students, 91 percent are below 40 years of age. We’ve received nearly 47,200 online requests from youth to join the RSS in the first six months of 2016, a surge of 35 percent compared to last year.”

Tribals have a message this Diwali, avoid Chinese products

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After Uri attack, there has been campaigns on social media platform to avoid buying Chinese made products as the country supported Pakistan on issue of terrorism. Three tribal families from Andhra Pradesh have come all the way to Kharghar to spread message to avoid Chinese products to decorate homes during Diwali.They insisted that residents should use country made products to teach a lesson to the dragon country. Tribal families are not putting put pressure to buy their products but they indeed insist to buy only country made. “We have brought products made by tribals in Andhra Pradesh. If residents do not like, they do not need to buy. But, they should buy only products made in India not in China and this is the way we can teach a lesson to China for supporting Pakistan,” said Madakam Mada. One of the tribal seller from East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh. Though these families are not very much tech savvy, they got to know from their neighborhood boycotting Chinese products and they decided to join in the campaign.Normally, ahead of Diwali, every household plans to go to the finest shops in the market to get their decorative articles for this Diwali. But, this year, they can also find some unique items made of bamboo, cane and papers on the roads of Kharghar, which are probably not available anywhere in the city.Tribal families from Andhra Pradesh have travelled almost 1,100 kilometers to make these articles available for the residents of Navi Mumbai ahead of the festival. They are staying in some temporary tents along the roads for the past few days.While some of them are making articles like kandils, flower pots, lamps among others inside their tents, some others are selling those on the footpaths. The prices of their articles are between Rs 250 to Rs 650.Satish M, another seller says, “All these products are made by tribals in their native place for the past several years. We used sell those in the local markets and the nearby towns in Andhra Pradesh. But, this year, we decided to promote our products in other states and encourage people to buy products made in this country only,” adding that they are getting good response.Satish says, “People are appreciating our effort and quality products available at low price. Such decorative items are not available at any shop in the city. We hope more people would come and purchase our items in the next few days. We will also think of moving to the other parts of the state.”Arpika Banerjee, one of the resident of Nerul says that this is the best example of Make in India campaign and we should promote such effort as part of patriotism.

Touch our feet and apologize: Air India flyers served non-veg

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Deeply offended to find chicken in their vegetarian meals, passengers on a Shanghai-Delhi-Mumbai Air India flight made a huge hue and cry about the airline’s goof-up. Refusing to settle for repeated apologies from senior crew members of the airline, the irate passengers eventually demanded that the crew members should touch their feet and apologise. While the national carrier’s in-flight crew bore the brunt of the agitated flyers, the blame rested on the Chinese caterer who uploaded the meals at Shanghai’s Pudong airport.The incident occurred on September 25, minutes after the crew served dinner to the largely-Indian passengers onboard. In his flight report filed with the airline, crew member S C Rupani reported that the situation got aggressive at one point and the captain had to be informed about it, who in turn informed security officials to be ready when the plane landed at Delhi airport. While the vegetarian meals uploaded in Shanghai had red foils, the non-vegetarian meals with chicken had the green foils. “When a family seated in the economy section brought this to our notice, we immediately apologised and changed the entire meal of the group,” Rupani said in his report, adding that within minutes a few other passengers complained about meat in their meals. Even as the crew members were changing the meals, some flyers got irritated. “The moment one of them announced that beef had been served to them, many of the flyers got agitated and things got out of hand,” Rupani said in his report, adding that the flyers not only wanted the complain in writing but also demanded apology from seniors in Air India when they land in Delhi. “One of them even threatened to commit suicide if he was not given an apology to his satisfaction. Things became really tense mid-air,” the report says. While the entire cabin crew tried its best to pacify the flyers, security officials were informed to rope in the catering and commercial officials to calm the flyers.After landing in Delhi, a group of passengers insisted that they will not deplane unless senior airline officials came onboard and apologized to them. “Our crew members were asked to touch the feet and apologise. Would they dare inflict this humiliation on the crew of a foreign airline?” said a senior Air India crew member, adding that on one hand the crew is working under tremendous stress and on the other hand, it has to fight for its rights with the management.A similar incident had occurred in June this year on the same flight from Shanghai, when 90 passengers were served prawns in a vegetarian meal. “The management had talked about penalising the Chinese caterer, but no action was taken,” the crew member said.When contacted to comment on the incident, Air India’s Managing Director Ashwani Lohani said that he will seek details and revert.

Let China change approach to India if it wants us to accept Chinese products

Dogs, wolves, jackals, coyotes all bark usually because of excitement, fear or in frustration. But when China’s Xinhua says that India generally “barks” about trade imbalance, it actually amounts to China barking in frustration. Since all media in China is state controlled and state directed, the arrogance and conceit displayed in their media reflects the bigoted stance of the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese Government. During Prime Minister Modi’s last visit to China, an oped in China’s Global Times (CCP’s official mouthpiece) stated, “Due to the Indian elite’s confidence in their democracy, and the inferiority of its ordinary people, few Indians are able to treat Sino-Indian ties accurately, objectively and rationally.”

Notice the idiotic reference to Indians as “inferiority of its ordinary people” as if the Chinese were fathered by some superlative aliens — which may well be the misconception considering President Xi Jinping’s recent statement that the moon has proved to be an “inescapable part of China” due to an ancient marriage between Chinese Princess Wen Cheng and an ancient ruler based on the moon during the 7th Century, albeit Jinping didn’t elaborate which moon considering scientists have discovered 1500 galaxies or whether Wen Cheng betrothed alien kings of all the moons.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

But getting back to the “bark” of Xinhua, the frustration is writ large because the same Indian population referred to as “inferiority of its ordinary people” has delivered a solid kick to China from totally unexpected quarters – shunning Chinese goods, and this is just the beginning. There is no government directive to not buy Chinese goods but the Indian population is wise enough to understand that by abetting Pakistani terrorism, China herself has become a terrorist state. Indian businessmen see no reason to stock Chinese products even if they are cheaper and one ignores the low grade stuff dumped in India. Signs of shops displaying “we don’t sell Chinese products” are on social media. As per some estimates, sale of Chinese products in last quarter in India have gone down by up to 20 percent. Chinese firecrackers during the festival of Diwali during 2015 were shunned anyway because of their highly toxic emissions, which should be the norm this year too. In fact, the government should consider releasing a white paper giving details of Indian small-scale industries that have been forced to shut down over the years on account of Chinese goods dumped in India.

India has no issue with the Chinese population but why should we buy Chinese products when China is abetting Pakistan’s proxy war on India and in fact uses Pakistani proxies to hurt India in accordance with her ancient strategy to ‘kill with a borrowed knife”; the knife being Pakistan. It is not the recent discovery of Chinese and Pakistani flags in Baramula alone but the China-Pakistan sub-conventional nexus dates back to 1960s when Chou-en-Lai advised Ayub Khan that Pakistan should prepare for prolonged conflict with India instead of short-term wars. He advised Pakistan to raise a Militia Force to act behind enemy (Indian) lines. In 1966, when a Pakistani delegation went to Beijing and was met by Chou en Lai, latter while discussing India raised his clenched fist and said, “This is capable of delivering a forceful blow, but if you cut off one finger, the fist loses its power, not by one-fifth, but by fifty percent. If you wipe out a couple of hundred thousand of the enemy spread over a long front, its impact is not as great as wiping out an entire battalion or a brigade – the enemy’s morale is dealt a devastating blow. We know this from practical experience.” Witness the shamelessness with which China is protecting JeM chief Azhar Masood at the UN despite his role in numerous terrorist attacks in India. Besides, the United Mission in Afghanistan (Unama) report released in July 2016 has specifically highlighted both JeM and LeT involved in terrorist acts in Afghanistan.

Review recent Pakistan sponsored terror attacks in India and Afghanistan and it can easily be concluded that their intensity and periodicity have gone up with Chinese entry into POK and commencement of development of the CPEC. Intelligence reports have been indicating that China is funding terrorists in J&K. And, why would China not be coordinating terrorist attacks in India and Afghanistan in conjunction Pakistan? Earlier British sources had contended Chinese specialists were training Taliban fighters in the use of infrared-guided surface-to-air missiles, which was supported by a 13 May, 2008 classified US document released by WikiLeaks. Also, Aviation Week of 23 December 2010 reported Chinese military personnel were advising Pakistani Taliban how to fight the NATO led ISAF. The China-Pakistan sub-conventional nexus keeps Kashmir Valley on the boil and advances Pakistan’s strategic depth in Afghanistan. Pakistani Generals have bartered their country’s sovereignty to China by permitting China develop her Super Strategic Highway to the Indian Ocean under the euphuism of CPEC, the adverse effects of which will be felt by the Pakistani public in years to follow. Already rumblings in Pakistan refer to the CPEC as another ‘East India Company’ but more is to follow with China bidding to buy 40% stakes in Pakistan’s stock exchange. It appears the 2012 prophesy by former Pakistani officer and defence analyst Agha H Amin was bang on wherein he said, “There is no doubt that Pakistan will be a semi autonomous Chinese province by 2030 or so… Pakistani Baluchistan by 2030 would be a completely Chinese run show”.

China is the largest economy in terms of PPP, second largest GDP and third largest investor in the world. She has reserves of over $3 trillion and contributes to some 30% plus of world trade. But at the same time China’s debt in 2015 was 254 percent of her GDP, there was 30% increase in protests by workers across China last year, and unemployment rate amongst graduates in China too is 30%. That is why the efforts of OBOR, CPEC, MST etc for which ready governmental finances are hard to find. China’s comprehensive national power (CNP) but 54% of her defence budget dedicated to internal threats is part of her infirmities. Ironically, increase in CNP has revived China’s ancient mindset rooted in her historical ‘Tian Xia’ (under the Heaven) concept which traditionally views “all territories” as belonging to the Chinese and due to which, they attach no sense to territory. That is why they have no compunctions about claiming 90,000 sq kms of Arunachal Pradesh on sudden impulse, arbitrarily extend her EEZ with no regard to her neigbours or print new world map showing Hawaii and most Micronesia as Chinese territory.

To bring China to her senses the only way is what the Indian public has begun to do — stop buying Chinese products. The effect is more since China is fully aware that the Indian middle class is heading towards the greatest expansion in the world, with attenuated purchasing power, while the Chinese population grows old. Sure we need about $2 trillion investment to expand our economy and China is welcome to invest, and it will, considering the impediments she will face in OBOR, CPEC, MST because of the geopolitical competition. Indians should desist buying Chinese products with alternative availability of products that are indigenous, Japanese, South Korean, Taiwanese etc. Let China change her stance towards India if she wants the Indian population to accept Chinese products. The world could take a cue from the Indian population.

The author is veteran Lt General of the Indian Army.

Police Commemoration Day: Spare a thought for India’s cops and their sacrifices

All over India, 21 October is commemorated as Police Day. On this day in 1959, a group of Indian policemen led by Karam Singh was attacked by the Chinese army at Hot Springs in Ladakh while on the lookout for a missing reconnaissance party. Ten cops were killed and seven taken as prisoners. Subsequently, in January 1960, 21 October was officially designated as Police Commemoration Day.

Each year this day that is meant to honour the supreme sacrifices of the police largely goes unnoticed due to continued indifference on part of the polity, media, society and other established institutions that cannot do without the police, and yet they don’t remember the police as it has been taken for that cops will selflessly continue to serve all institutions despite the non-recognition of the force to meet the expectations of one and all.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Such indifference and the functioning of the police today calls for a closer look at the state of affairs existing with the police force in India. Most unfortunately, the police has not got its due even though it is embedded in every segment of the country. It is a neglected lot and dismissed as corrupt, inefficient and not people-friendly. Such allegations could be partially true but arguably, we have not seen any visible and genuine attempts by the detractors and critics of the police to improve its image. None whatsoever!

With no animosity towards our armed forces, we have seen the armed forces being lauded time and again for their sacrifices. Sadly, not a word for the police whose contribution to the country and the society is no less.

Let’s take the most recent Uri attacks.

Undoubtedly, the army — being on the frontline — grabbed headlines and deservedly so and its sacrifices can not be underestimated. Yet, the police, especially in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, worked tirelessly to ensure peace and remained poised to meet any challenges. If the armed forces are on high alert to meet external threats, the police is there to see that tranquility is kept up within the country. This is a huge task.

Communal disturbances, internal strife, naxal threats, crimes of a diverse nature, law and order problems, natural calamities and numerous other complex issues are on the overcrowded plate of the police and this is not a one-time job. It’s an ongoing situation and can’t be left unattended even for a day. Sadly, after Uri, not a single political leader from the topmost to the middle rung made any pro-police remarks. If police morale is not kept up, how does one expect police to deliver at times of crises?

Elections in difficult states are round the corner. Also, external aggression remains a possibility. If the police is not in good shape, we should not expect it to deal with the challenges effectively. Its working conditions and morale have to be almost on par with the armed forces. This is not happening.

Very few realise the unending pressure under which cops are working. There are some crusaders who are fighting for police reform and betterment of living conditions, but they are all retired police officials. It looks like improving the police is the responsibility of only retired police officers. Shouldn’t social activists from all walks of life come forward to uplift the police morale and show some compassion for them?

For the armed forces, we have the state-of-the-art medical facilities, research and referral hospitals, and much more. The police remains overlooked with the absence of such essential facilities. Similarly, housing, children’s education, separated family quarters etc need attention. The police in India also needs to have a sense of pride generating a sense of belonging for top class service — people-friendly and efficient.

Also, canteen facilities, rations and air travel at concessional rates have to be introduced to have a police force befitting our country’s requirements. Lamentably, we have allowed the police to go adrift by sheer neglect. It has now reached saturation point. With multiple threatening challenges, we need to have a ship-shape police force deserving occasional pats on its back to get it going. Such encouragement must come from all and sundry.

According to one database, there are 14 lakh policemen in India and hundreds of able-bodied personnel die each year while on duty. None are declared ‘martyrs’. Do we call it discrimination? We haven’t seen policemen marching or agitating for OROP at India Gate. A majority of those in power look down on the police and their colonial mindset needs a change or else they will be on the receiving end. Where those in power do not hesitate to beat a police horse to death, hopes of a refurbished police image looks bleak but not impossible. The crusade must go on. Let all those who matter in society join the service and retired police personnel all over the country today to commemorate the sacrifices of the police.

The author is a retired IPS officer and a columnist on matters of security. Views are personal

1962 Indo-China War Anniversary: Revisiting our crushing defeat and what it means for current relations

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>October 20 marks the 24th anniversary of the start of India’s most crushing war defeat. On this day in 1962, China launched its first major war offensive against India, taking then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who had been touting the ‘Hindi-Chin bhai-bhai’ doctrine, and catching Indian troops completely unprepared for the offensive. The Sino-Indian War continued for a month before China declared a ceasefire on November 21. Today, China and India share a relationship that can be best described by the ‘It’s complicated’ Facebook status. At the recent BRICS event, China blocked India’s attempt to name terror groups like JeM and LeT as part of the Goa declaration, only weeks after it had sunk India’s attempt to get Hafeez Saeed named as a global terrorist.These moves have prompted an online backlash against India’s eastern neighbour, with calls to boycott Chinese goods, an idea easier articulated than practised, given the ubiquitous presence of China’s manufacturing complex in most consumer goods. Besides, the WTO agreement also means that India can’t just stop trade relations with China. Here are some facts you ought to know about the Indo-China War of 1962 and what it means for the diplomatic relationship now.Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai – post independence love affairPost-Independence, it was India’s stated policy to maintain a cordial relationship with the People’s Republic of China, with the infamous slogan from 1950s – ‘Hindi-Chin Bhai Bhai’ (Indians and Chinese are like brothers). In 1954, India and China chalked out the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. However, India and China relations were marred by problems.The Tibet ProblemThings turned sour when India granted asylum to the Dalai Lama in 1959. China responded by deploying more troops along the Aksai Chin border. China was unhappy with India providing sanctuary to the Tibetan leader, even more so because Nehru went to the border to receive him. China considered India’s interference as ‘expansionist’ and meddling in their internal affairs.Border DisputesThe border issues of India and China was in two areas. Aksai Chin (along the Western Front AKA the Johnson Line) and Arunachal Pradesh in NE India (along the Eastern front AKA McMahon Line). When Nehru visited China in 1954, he showed Chinese Premier Zhou en Lai the new political map with ‘hard borders’ and expressed concern over Chinese maps showing Indian territory as part of China. Zhou, however, assured Nehru they were old maps and they would be corrected.The start of warThings came to a head on October 20, 1962 when China’s People’s Liberation Army invaded India in Ladakh, northern Uttarakhand and in the east across the McMahon Line. Indian were lulled into believing that there wouldn’t be a war and were not ready by any stretch of imagination. To increase the confusion, China cut telephone lines which prevented the border sentry from getting in touch with headquarters.Seeking helpIndia’s desire for interference from either the USA or the erstwhile USSR didn’t go down well. While Pravada, the Soviet govt’s mouthpiece urged Indian friends and Chinese brothers to negotiate peacefully. That came as a blow to India who considered the USSR their staunch ally. At the same time, the US and USSR were engulfed in the Bay of Pigs crisis. However, it seems that the US did help out with US ambassador to India John Kenneth Galbraith looking into the matter, wroteColonel Anil Athale (retd) for Rediff.com.US Air Force squadrons carried out drops of arms and supplies to Indian soldiers on the battlefront. American aircraft also carried out photo missions which provided India with visuals of the conflict. However, the US-India thaw would end quickly over Uncle Sam’s alleged designs over Kashmir.CeasefireOn November 20, 1962, China finally announced a ceasefire along the entire Sino-Indian border. They promised to withdraw to positions 20 km behind the ‘line of actual control’. There were some minor battles in NEFA and Aksai Chin but for the most part, it signalled an end to fighting.RamificationsThe Sino-Indian war coincided with the Bay of Pigs crisis and the threat of nuclear war distracted the world media’s attention. China made it clear that it only cared about Tibet. Nehru would come in for criticism of his handling, as would the Indian Army for its unpreparedness. China’s decision to carry out a ceasefire earned it some global goodwill, as did its decision to vacate positions.It was a clear sting to the Indian Army’s prestige which would bolster its credentials and also earn back some respect in the Bangla Liberation War of 1971. As for Sino-India relationships, it became clear that India couldn’t hope to upset China without major consequences, a problem that ceases to exist till this day. Nehru’s continued belief that the solution was diplomatic proved to be disastrous, as did the notion that China won’t attack.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit: Myanmar needs Asian giants India and China for its development

Myanmar needs both Asian giants — India and China’s help for its development and wants to keep an equal distance from both. Aung San Suu Kyi, who calls the shots in the government, is keen to follow the non-aligned path laid out by her freedom fighter father Aung San and Jawaharlal Nehru. The two were fast friends and worked together for the independence of their respective countries. The new democratic regime in Myanmar will not play favourites: It needs India’s institution-building capacity as well as China’s infrastructure projects. So the new regime will strive to have good relations with both Asian powers.

Myanmar, which is taking baby steps towards democracy, naturally wants to learn from India how to reconcile the different elements of a fragmented society. “We as a nation are struggling to make democratic culture take root in our country… We believe that India with its experience so similar to us will help us in our endeavour… We are building a very young democracy and India is helping us, especially with capacity building of our legislators to make sure rule of law is established in our country,” State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi said, after talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Terrorism naturally came up during the discussions. Aung Suu Kyi condemned the Uri attack, while PM Modi expressed his sympathy for the policemen killed in attacks in Myanmar’s restive Rakhine state. In the joint statement, released after the talks, there were significant paragraphs on terror.

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi at Hyderabad House, in New Delhi on Wednesday.PTI Photo(PTI10_19_2016_000248B)New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi at Hyderabad House, in New Delhi on Wednesday.PTI Photo(PTI10_19_2016_000248B)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in New Delhi. PTI

Pakistan was not named, but the statement was obvious. “Both sides condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations as well as all acts, methods and practices of terrorism wherever, by whomever, against whomsoever committed and agreed that the fight against terrorism should target terrorists, hold to account terror organisations, networks and also states that encourage, support or finance terrorism in any way. Both sides also agreed that terrorism is first and foremost a violation of human rights and that there can be no justification for extending support, financing, provision of material resources or training to terrorists who destroy innocent lives. Both countries called for the expeditious finalisation of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism presently being negotiated in the United Nations.” New Delhi will be happy with this.

In a statement to the media, Prime Minister Modi, welcomed Suu Kyi to Delhi, “her second home”. She had spent much of her girlhood here when her mother was the ambassador to this country in the early 60s. She is a product of Jesus and Mary School and Lady Shri Ram College and has a lot of friends and admirers in the Indian capital.

Though Suu Kyi was miffed when India began engaging with the military junta since 1992 on fears of China’s large footprints in that country, much of it is now in the past. Though for strategic reasons, Delhi opened a channel to the military dictatorship, the pro-democracy refugees were also welcomed and hosted by successive governments.

For India, Myanmar is of strategic importance as it borders its sensitive North Eastern states. The two countries share a 1,600 km-long border. “We have agreed that a close coordination to ensure security in the areas along our border, and sensitivity to each other’s strategic interests, will serve the interests of both our countries,” Modi said as the two sides decided to ramp up border vigilance.

Myanmar is also India’s bridge to the larger Asean market and an integral part of Prime Minister Modi’s “act east policy”. The Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project, which will open the waterways for transport of goods in the region, forms an important part of Delhi’s connectivity aims. The project had faced long delays but is likely to be completed by the year end. The trilateral Asian highway is also nearing completion.

Aung Suu Kyi condemned the Uri attack, while PM Modi expressed his sympathy for the policemen killed in attacks in Myanmar’s restive Rakhine state

Prime Minister Modi said that, “We [India] are sharing our resources and expertise with Myanmar. India’s nearly $1.75 billion of development assistance is centered on people. And is in line with the priorites of Myanmar government and its people.”

As in Afghanistan, India wants its projects to touch the lives of ordinary citizens of the country. So agriculture now plays a major role in India’s development plans. The PM said that India will help to develop a Seed Production Centre in Myanmar, which will improve the quality of seeds. Power supply from Moreh to Tamu in Myanmar will be ramped up, the PM said. Renewable energy and power are two other important items on the developmental agenda.

Three MOU’s were signed during the visit: Cooperation on power, help in framing professional and academic programs for insurance, and banking supervision between RBI and Central Bank of Myanmar. In short, India will help in both the banking and insurance sectors.

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s state counsellor, made China her first destination after taking over as foreign minister. The idea was to repair ties with Beijing and placate Chinese sentiments over the cancellation of a $3.6 Myitsone Dam project in 2011. China was furious over the scrapping. Beijing had been a staunch supporter of the military junta during the period it was under sanctions from the rest of the world. But the Burmese generals were unhappy with the project and there had been many skirmishes between people living in the border areas of the two countries. The scrapping happened at a time when Myanmar was taking tentative steps towards democracy and had freed Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest. The generals, feeling the pinch of tough economic sanctions was opening up to the West. A host of Western dignitaries, including US President Barak Obama visited Myanmar.

But the Chinese remained irritated. So ahead of her visit, Aung San Suu Kyi announced a panel of experts to look into the Myitsome dam issue. Clearly the state ends

Pak-China ‘all weather’ ties based on shared interests: Nawaz Sharif

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan and China’s “all weather” relationship is based upon shared principles and interests that form the foundation of cooperation in diverse fields, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Wednesday. Sharif stated this when he met Bank of China chairman Tian Guoli who called on him here. “Highlighting China’s great support to Pakistan in security, trade and infrastructure development, the Prime Minister said that Pakistan and China have a shared future and China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the largest comprehensive project with any foreign country,” according to an official statement.”CPEC is a fusion of multiple development projects, aimed at the prosperity and well-being of the citizens of the country and the region at large,” it quoted Sharif saying. The prime minister said that Pakistan has a vibrant banking system that has achieved high level of profitability, improved liquidity and strong solvency position.Sharif said sound capital base, remarkable growth in assets and profitability and compliance with international standards has poised Pakistan’s banking sector in a very competitive position in the region for investors.He said foreign ownership in Pakistan’s banking sector has consistently and considerably increased and the government has recently concluded USD 700 million financing agreement with China Development Bank which is the first such interaction with the Chinese banking industry.Tian lauded the vision of Sharif for putting the country on development path and turning around the economy. Tian said that CPEC has huge economic benefits for the people of Pakistan and the region.

J&K: 44 suspected terrorists arrested; Chinese, Pak flags, incriminating materials recovered

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Possibly for the first time in Kashmir, security forces have recovered Chinese flags along with incriminating material during raids at suspected hideouts of militants in Baramulla and arrested 44 people for their alleged involvement in “terror-related activities”.”Over 700 houses were searched in a span of 12 hours on October 17 in an extensive search operation in old town in Baramulla, during which 44 persons involved with terror related activities have been apprehended,” an army spokesman said.The security forces sanitised the area and a number of hideouts were busted during the operation, the spokesman said.”A large quantity of incriminating material such as petrol bombs, Chinese and Pakistani flags, Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) letter head pads, unauthorized mobile phones and seditious anti-national publicity material were seized,” he added.He said the operation was jointly carried out by teams of army, police, BSF and CRPF in 10 sensitive localities including Qazi Hamam, Ganai Hamam, Taweed Gunj, Jamia and other mohallas reportedly being used as “safe havens by the terrorists”.

Indore: 21-km human chain formed for boycott of Chinese goods

Mukesh Modi, convener of Hindu Utsav Samiti said, “China earns money by selling its products in India and extends financial aid to Pakistan.” <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 21-km human chain was on Monday formed in the city to appeal to people to boycott Chinese products.”China earns money by selling its products in India and extends financial aid to Pakistan. Pakistan uses the money for anti-India activities,” said Mukesh Modi, convener of Hindu Utsav Samiti which had organised the event.The human chain, which stretched from Palsikar chowk to Bombay Hospital, was formed to appeal the people not to buy the products made in China and to protest China’s “proxy-war” against India, he said.Over 30,000 people held hands to form the chain, he said.

Not just a pal: Nepal wants to bridge differences between India and China

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Pitching Nepal as a “dynamic bridge” between India and China, Prime Minister Prachanda floated a proposal for a trilateral strategic partnership during a meeting with Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, a media report said.Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ during the trilateral meeting held on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit expressed Nepal’s desire to act as a “dynamic bridge” between the two Asian giants and to reap the benefit of playing such a role, The Himalayan Times reported along with a photo of the meeting.Prachanda “floated a proposal for trilateral strategic partnership among the three countries”, which Modi and Xi acknowledged as ‘significant’ and said they were positive towards it, the report said, citing a statement issued by his secretariat on the Prime Minister’s personal website.The Nepalese premier, who reached India to attend the BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit yesterday, first held a one-on- one meeting with Chinese President Xi which lasted for around 20 minutes and later Modi joined them. The leaders discussed issues of common interests, Prachanda’s personal secretary Prakash Dahal, who is also his son, was quoted as saying.According to the statement, Prachanda said during the meeting that “we (Nepal) are located between two giant countries. We want to become a dynamic bridge between the two countries and reap the benefit”.”During the meeting, I put forth the issue of strategic partnership with emphasis,” Dahal said, adding that “the Indian Prime Minister and Chinese President said Nepal’s proposal on strategic partnership is significant and they agreed to it”.Noting that Buddha, Pashupatinath and Janaki connected Nepal, India and China, Prachanda was quoted as saying that Nepal can play a role of a bridge between India and China and help them build good relationship at present also. He further said Nepal was inching towards the goals of development and wanted to establish a balanced, friendly and strategic relationship with both the neighbours, the report said.The Nepalese premier also expressed his hope that the trilateral meeting could play a significant role in setting up an “epochal relationship” between Nepal, India and China, it said. In response, Chinese President Xi was quoted as saying that the size of the country did not bear much significance and Nepal could become a bridge between India and China. He also praised Nepal’s role in keeping an equidistant relationship with China and India while expressing belief that the relations between the three countries would strengthen in the future. Noting that the three countries shared “geographical, emotional and cultural friendship, Indian Prime Minister Modi said India was positive towards Nepal’s proposal on trilateral partnership,” the report said.Prachanda’s spouse Sita Dahal was also present at the meeting.

Nepal PM Prachanda, Modi, Xi Jinping hold trilateral meeting in Goa: Report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Prachanda held a trilateral meeting with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in Goa and pitched Nepal as a “dynamic bridge” between the two Asian giants, a media report here said today. Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, who reached India to attend the BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit yesterday, first held a one-on-one meeting with Chinese President Xi which lasted for around 20 minutes and later Modi joined them, The Himalayan Times reported along with a photo of the meeting. The three leaders discussed issues of common interests, Prachanda’s personal secretary Prakash Dahal was quoted as saying. During the meeting yesterday, Prachanda was quoted as saying that though Nepal is a small country, it is extremely rich in cultural and religious diversity. He said Pashupatinath, Gautam Buddha and Janaki have connected to the three countries. Albeit, Nepal is located between two giant powers of Asia — India and China — a prosperous Nepal is possible with their help and cooperation, Prachanda said. “We wish to reap benefits of this geographical specialty by working as a dynamic bridge between the two countries,” he said. Chinese President Xi agreed with Prachanda stating that geography of any country would not play a decisive role in terms of many things like development, the report said. He also praised Nepal’s role in keeping an equidistant relationship with China and India while expressing belief that the relations between the three countries would strengthen in the future. “Likewise, Indian PM Modi acknowledged there are geographical, emotional and cultural relations among India, Nepal and China,” the report said. Prachanda’s spouse Sita Dahal was also present in the meeting.PTI

BRICS 2016: India, China discuss terrorism; push NSG issue for second round

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India made some plain speaking to China on Saturday on the lines that countries cannot afford to have differences on the issue of tackling terror and put forward its concerns over Beijing blocking UN designation of JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.The Indian position was conveyed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Chinese President Xi Jinping during a bilateral meeting in Goa that came against the backdrop of China putting on hold India’s move to get Azhar, the brain behind the Pathankot attack, banned by the UN. The bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the BRICS summit to be held on Sunday saw Xi disclosing that a second round of dialogue between the two countries will be held soon on India’s bid for membership of the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in which New Delhi hopes “differences” will be narrowed down. Xi said the dialogue would be helpful.On the issue of terrorism, Modi told Xi that “Both India and China are victims of terrorism and the region was suffering from the menace. The Prime Minister said no country is immune from terrorism and on this issue, we cannot afford to have any differences,” MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup told reporters after the meeting. “In particular, India and China must increase their coordination in context of UN 1267 committee and look for common ground,” he said.India has been upset with China when it put on technical hold New Delhi’s move to designate Azhar as a global terrorist by UN. Recently, China extended the hold by few months. Swarup said both sides recognised that terrorism as a “key issue” with Xi asserting that the two sides should strengthen the security dialogue and partnership. “Both India and China have been victims of terrorism which was a scourge afflicting the entire region,” Indian Ambassador to China Vijay Gokhale quoted Modi as saying while referring to terror incidents in Afghanistan, Myanmar and Bangladesh.Swarup said India was in dialogue with China on enforcing a UN ban on Azhar. “We expect China will see logic in it.” The Prime Minister said India and China must increase cooperation in the fight against terrorism and look for a common ground and a long-term road to tackle the menace.Xi said India and China must step up counter-terrorism efforts and strengthen security dialogue and partnership. It was announced that Yang Jiechi will meet his Indian counterpart NSA Ajit Doval soon. Asked whether China has been provided with any evidence in the pursuit of obtaining China’s support on the Azhar issue, Swarup said “no evidence”.He said Indian side has not spared any effort to convey that to Chinese and it hopes that they “see logic”. To another question, he said China condemns all forms of terrorism and a counter-terrorism dialogue has taken place with it. “This will be discussed in the next round and our expectation is that China will take all steps… (to check the menace).” Replying to questions whether China has softened on its stand on India’s NSG membership, Swarup said, “This shows there is dialogue, a good strategic dialogue. Of course this will narrow differences.”Asked whether China reiterated the position that membership of the NSG was by consensus among parties, he replied “no”. Last month, a Chinese delegation led by Director General of Department of Arms Control Wang Qun had visited India for talks on the issue with Indian officials.In the June Plenary of NSG in Seoul, despite strong American support, China stonewalled India’s bid to get entry into the group on the grounds that it was a not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).Swarup said Chinese leader clearly acknowledged increasing threat of terrorism and condemned all forms and manifestations of terrorism. President Xi said terrorism and violent extremism were on the increase and alluded to the threat from ISIL while pitching for stepped up bilateral counter-terrorism efforts, Swarup told reporters.Xi also said the two sides must maintain strategic dialogue on the counter-terrorism. The two leaders also noted the upcoming visit by Chinese State Councillor Yang who will hold talks with National Security Advisor Doval where the dialogue will continue.India and China held their first high level dialogue on counter-terrorism and security in September. “The Chinese side is very well aware of our concerns, need for us to ensure that globally notified terrorists are designated by the UN. There is a close coordination between India and China on this issue and that particular dialogue will continue,” Swarup said.He also said that there was a brief discussion on the NSG issue. On the economic side, both leaders noted the progress made in sector with Xi talking about various to address the trade deficit in favour of China.

Brics Summit: Why host India would do well to ignore China’s provocations for now

Aspiring powers that seek to influence global narrative do not rise to greatness by acting on impulse. In the complex world of geostrategic affairs, sometimes we need to swallow pride, keep our heads down, keep eyes fixed on the target and wait patiently for the moment to emerge. Throughout the 1990s when the unfettered rise of America was reshaping post-Cold War global order — of which Brics is an offshoot — China did the hard grind while emitting nary a noise.

Chinese President Xi Jinping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. APChinese President Xi Jinping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

Chinese President Xi Jinping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

It has risen now. And the dragon’s fire is forging new relationships, singeing some old ones and molding the region around it in accord with President Xi Jinping’s iron will. China’s rise carries more than a few lessons for India. Even as Narendra Modi gears up to host the eighth annual summit of emerging economies, India would do well to ignore, for now, the multi-billion pound dragon’s machinations in the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) room.

For New Delhi to make anything out of the grouping of five economies at different stages on the growth and ambition scale, it must accept the ground realities and then proceed to focus on areas of convergence with nimble-footedness. If it wants to truly become a global player, India cannot afford right at this moment to take a confrontational posture vis-à-vis China and let bilateral tensions ruin Brics stated goals.

Granted, that those goals have faced a steady downward revision since the first decade of new millennium and expectations that Brics will become a formidable strategic, economic and political force have largely been belied but there still exists enough legroom for all players to facilitate intra-grouping trade and investments.

As Geethanjali Nataraj points out in The Financial Express, Brics countries in 2015 accounted for a total GDP of $16.92 trillion, equivalent to 23.1 percent of world GDP and a 19.1 percent share in world exports. Also, intra-Brics trade increased 163 percent, from $93 to $244 billion.

The catch is that most of this influence is due to China, whose disproportionate economic and strategic sway over the group is in direct confrontation with India’s own regional and global aspirations. Beijing represents two-thirds of the conglomerate’s total GDP and accounts for a lion’s share of its trade and investments. Taken together with a new muscular foreign policy under President Jinping, China possesses both the power and will to use Brics as a tool of its larger role in global geopolitics.

Since international relations are mostly guided by narrow strategic interests, it is hardly surprising that the assertive dragon is increasingly pushing the pacifist elephant into a corner. It has flatly refused to let UN designate Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a terrorist that would have put curbs on his travel and greatly reduce his chance of raising funds. It has almost single-handedly prevented India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG). Beijing has invested heavily to almost colonise Pakistan and has gained strategic military depth in India’s western border through CPEC.

Xi Jinping just became the first Chinese President to visit Bangladesh in 30 years. While on it, he extended a $24 billion credit line (trumping India’s investments by 12 times) at low-interest rates and promised to finance in heavy infrastructural projects like power and port with a country over whom New Delhi reckons to have huge strategic influence. And recently it blocked a Brahmaputra tributary just to send a message across to India on post-Uri developments.

These Chinese strategic moves come in the backdrop of a huge trade imbalance between the two nations. ANI reports, quoting data from China’s General Administration of Customs that India in September exported goods worth $922 million to China, while importing goods worth $5.4 billion. To rub it in, Chinese media recently gloated about this huge trade deficit and warned India that any attempt to block its goods will be ultimately futile and merely end up damaging bilateral ties — a barely concealed warning.

Now, India may respond in two ways. While Modi meets Jinping today on the sidelines for a closed-door bilateral, he may raise the irritants in the relationship and risk derailing the Brics Summit at the altar of bilateral tensions. This might gain his some domestic traction politically but will be a myopic strategy against a very powerful neighbour.

Alternatively, Modi may choose to focus on areas of convergence with the understanding that friction between two great aspiring powers can never be fully avoided but a working relationship will be more mutually beneficial. The Chinese are assertive but never far away from pragmatism. If India, as the current chair of Brics, manages to ignore the obvious provocations and shows a willingness to work with China and improve competition and facilitate economic growth between the emerging economies, it will earn grudging respect from the dragon.

Ultimately, it will only work to India’s benefit.

BRICS: China refuses to budge on India’s NSG bid, Masood Azhar’s banning

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On the eve of President Xi Jinping’s India visit, China on Friday stuck to its guns saying that there was no change in its stand on India’s NSG membership bid and New Delhi’s attempts to get JeM chief Masood Azhar designated as a terrorist by the UN.As Xi is due to arrive in Goa on Saturday to take part in the BRICS Summit, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said the relations between India and China made “great headway” despite some “disputes” but there was no change in in Beijing’s stand on the issues of NSG and Azhar.”I have stated China’s position. I would like to reiterate that the UN committee dealing with the listing does it according to provisions of the UN charter,” he said while replying to a question on India’s application to ban Azhar following the Pathankot terrorist attack.Geng, at a briefing, said China maintains that 1267 Committee of the UN designated to ban terrorist outfits should work on true facts and make a decision according to consensus of its members. All parties are divided in listing of the relevant people. And this is why China has put on hold banning Azhar, he said.The second technical hold put by China will give enough time to make the listing decision, Geng said, adding that this also shows the responsible and professional attitude of the Chinese side.”China’s position has not changed regarding the joining of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) by India,” Geng said.Speaking on the same issue earlier this month, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong had harped on the need to build consensus over the admission of new members in the 48-member NSG. Geng said today that he wants to “underscore” that in recent years China and India relations had been making “great headway” despite some “disputes”. He said that the “mainstream of bilateral relations have been positive” and “cooperation far outweighs competition”.Geng expressed hope that the two countries can continue with dialogue and cooperation to exchange views on some disputes, seek solutions and properly manage relevant disputes.Meanwhile, a Chinese scholar, Hu Shisheng, Director of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations affiliated to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said China may speed up the construction of the USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir if Pakistan is isolated and cornered by India.”China has to discuss with Pakistan about the current situation on how to handle and how to come out it,” Hu said speaking about Pakistan’s isolation in the region leading to the postponement of the SAARC summit after the Uri terror attack in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed.

China to sign some $24 billion in loans to Bangladesh as Xi visits

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China is set to sign off on loans worth over $24 billion to Bangladesh during President Xi Jinping’s visit on Friday, Dhaka’s biggest foreign credit line to date that will help it build power plants, a seaport and railways. Xi’s trip, the first by a Chinese president in 30 years, is aimed at boosting China’s involvement in infrastructure projects at a time when India is pushing investments of its own in Bangladesh, a country New Delhi considers its area of influence. Japan, helped by India, has also got involved in Bangladesh, offering finance at low interest rates to build a port and power complex, sharpening competition for influence in the country of 160 million people located on the Bay of Bengal. China plans to finance around 25 projects, including a 1,320 megawatt (MW) power plant, and is also keen to build a deep sea port, Bangladesh junior finance minister MA Mannan said. “Xi’s visit will set a new milestone. (A) record amount of loan agreements will be signed during the visit, roughly $24 billion,” he told Reuters. Among the proposed projects are highways and information technology development, he said. “Our infrastructure needs are big, so we need huge loans.”China’s Jiangsu Etern Co Ltd signed a deal worth $1.1 billion to strengthen the power grid network in Bangladesh, the company said on Thursday. Beijing is especially keen to revive a plan to build a deep sea port in Sonadia which has been on hold for years, officials said. Xi is visiting Bangladesh on his way to a BRICS summit of the world’s leading emerging economies in Goa, India. His trip comes at a time when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leading efforts to boost ties with neighbouring countries, from Sri Lanka to Nepal, by offering them a share of India’s fast-growing economy. Last year Modi announced a $2 billion credit line during a visit to Dhaka, but China looks set to go well beyond that. Zhao Gancheng, director of South Asia Studies at Shanghai Institute for International Studies, said both India and China supported development in Bangladesh, and that it did not have to be one or the other. “I really don’t think there is a zero sum game going on in Bangladesh between China and India. Bangladesh welcomes both Chinese and Indian investment…” said Zhao. Bangladesh has backed Xi’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative to boost trade and transport links across Asia and into Europe, seeing it as an opportunity to lift growth. India has reservations about the plan, amid worries that it is an attempt to build a vast zone of Chinese influence. Beijing had proposed an economic corridor linking Bangladesh, Myanmar, China and northern India, but New Delhi did not seem keen on the idea, Zhao said. “Bangladesh has an enormous need for investment, and I don’t think it’s going to become a site for strategic competition, a game between the great powers or a pawn,” he said.

On the sidelines of three day BRICS Summit in Goa, PM Modi to meet 10 world leaders for bilateral talks

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have nearly ten bilaterals, including an annual summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in three days in Goa from October 15 on the sidelines of the five-nation BRICS Summit and BIMSTEC outreach meet.Prime Minister Modi will meet Putin on Saturday for the annual summit and the talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to be held later that day. His summit with Brazilian President Michel Temer is scheduled for Monday. While issues such as terrorism, economy and connectivity are expected to dominate the deliberations at the multilateral-level, bilateral meetings will see India exploring ways to enhance cooperation in key areas of security, defence, energy and investments, officials said.Apart from holding meetings with leaders of BRICS (Brazil -Russia-India-China-South Africa), Modi will have talks with Prime Ministers of Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. He will also have a bilateral with State Counsellor of Myanmar Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who is arriving in India on October 16 on her first visit to the country after assuming the office.
ALSO READ BRICS Summit 2016: PM Modi, Russian Prez Putin to discuss defence, tradeDuring Modi-Putin meeting, key issues of defence, security, civil nuclear cooperation, trade and investment are expected to dominate the talks. Significantly, Indian envoy to Moscow Pankaj Saran had said that India has conveyed its views to Russia over its joint exercise with Pakistan, a nation which “sponsors and practises terrorism as a matter of State policy”, and that it will create further problems.The bilateral summit also comes at a time when India is undertaking large-scale defence modernisation programme involving replacing old Russian equipment with modern ones from the country itself and from other nations. Some of the most important defence deals currently under discussion are purchase of 5 S-400 ‘Triumf’ long-range air defence missile systems, Kamov-28 helicopters and upgradation of the Sukhoi 30-MKIs.
ALSO READ India conveys its opposition on Russia-Pakistan military exercise to Moscow On nuclear cooperation, the two sides are working to finalise a General Framework Agreement and a Credit Protocol for unit 5 and 6 under Kudankulam project and negotiations for the same are likely to be concluded during Putin’s upcoming visit, officials said.During Modi-Xi meeting, issues such as India’s NSG membership bid and China blocking the banning of terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed’s chief and mastermind of Pathankot attack Masood Azhar by the UN are likely to be discussed by the Indian side, according to officials.Ahead of their meeting, China has indicated that it will not remove the technical hold it has placed in the UN Sanctions Committee on banning Azhar as it was opposed to anyone making “political gains in the name of counter- terrorism”. However, on NSG, Chinese government has said it was “ready” to talk.Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi had last met on the sidelines of G-20 in Hangzhou in September.

Manohar Parrikar belittling valour of Indian Army: AAP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The AAP on Wednesday accused Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar of “belittling” the valour of the Indian Army, saying his statement over surgical strikes shows that he is indulging in low-grade politics.The party also claimed that the BJP was trying to encash on the issue ahead of Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls.Rejecting claims that surgical strikes were undertaken during the UPA government, Parrikar asserted that a “major” share of credit for the army action last month goes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Speaking at two different events in Mumbai, he said all the 127 crore people of India, including “doubting Thomases”, and the army share and deserve credit for the operation as it was done by the armed forces and not by any political party.”There is no better example of low-grade politics. By issuing such statement, Parrikar is belittling the achievements of the Indian Army, which has had a proud history of valour and sacrifice,” AAP’s Delhi unit convener Dilip Pandey said. He said that Parrikar had also compared the Indian Army to Hanuman who had to be made aware of his powers and by saying this he has “insulted” the army.The AAP leader also lodged a compliant, asking the police to book Parrikar under sedition charges. “The BJP has misused issues ahead of polls. During Madhya Pradesh Assembly polls, it got a full page advertisement printed about Chinese incursions. They exploited cow during the Bihar polls and now they are doing this ahead of UP polls,” Pandey said.

Too big a trade partner: Why Indian politicians’ call to boycott Chinese goods will fail

By Abhishek Waghmare

Indian politicians are currently leading a campaign to boycott Chinese goods. But an IndiaSpend analysis shows why this will fail: China is India’s largest trade partner, a sixth of India’s imports are Chinese, up from a tenth in 2011-12, while India’s exports to its rival have halved over the same period.

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Images like these are now being commonly shared on Whatsapp

Imports from China grew at 20% over two years and 5% over five years, to $61 billion. These goods range from power plants and set top boxes to Ganesh idols. This is despite the fact that India’s imports have generally fallen over the last five years — from $490 billion (Rs 23 lakh crore) to $380 billion (Rs 25 lakh crore)—because of a fall in global oil prices.

India’s exports to China have fallen from $18 billion (Rs 86,000 crore) in 2011-12 to $9 billion (Rs 58,000 crore) in 2015-16. Apart from cotton, copper, petroleum and industrial machinery, India does not export much to China. This means that India buys six times the merchandise it sells to China.

The Export-Import Imbalance

Cellphones, laptops, solar cells, fertilisers, keyboards, displays and communication equipment — including earphones — these are India’s chief imports from China, according to our analysis of ministry of commerce data.

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Other major imports from China include tuberculosis and leprosy drugs, antibiotics, children’s toys, industrial springs, ball bearings, LCD and LED displays, routers, TV remote controllers and set top boxes.

The political storm

Despite this, political leaders including Sharad Yadav of Janata Dal (United) from Bihar, Himanta Biswa Sarma, the newly inducted finance minister of Assam, and Anil Vij, health minister of Haryana, are appealing for a boycott of ‘Made In China’ goods.

“People should not buy Chinese goods. Instead, Indian goods should be used. Trade with China is affecting our country. China is not our friend nation. China can buy weapons with whatever money it earns. There is a possibility that the weapons are given to enemy countries…We should focus on Make in India,” Vij was quoted by Indian Express on 4 October, 2016.

Stagnant manufacturing figures

China was referred to as the ‘world’s manufacturing powerhouse’ by former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan and chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian in a February 2006 research paper. India, however, “failed to match its neighbor in this process”, asserted the paper, published by the US-based National Bureau of Economic Research.

Stagnating indices for the manufacturing sector show that India is still struggling to compete with China. Despite a record foreign direct investment of $55 billion in 2015-16, private investment in manufacturing is still sluggish.

Why China bazars are popular

IndiaSpend visited Manish market, the hub of imported Chinese goods in Mumbai’s heart. Chinese products here are cheaper, available in bulk, neatly packaged and easy to buy.

“If the 50 different types of LED lamps that I sell were available from say, Surat, at a cheaper rate and at my doorstep, why would I go for Chinese lamps?” asked a lamp distributor and retailer, requesting anonymity. “If I had to buy these in India, this collection would cost me double.”

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China moved forward with rapid market reforms from the 1980s, propelled by the establishment of special economic zones. Land and labour reforms helped it ramp up its production capacity. The result is that India’s iron, steel and fertiliser production is a tenth of China’s.

China’s export story is also driven by ease of market access. Take the example of Sumant Kasliwal, who runs an apparel e-commerce start-up in Mumbai. After two years of shopping for merchandise in India, he switched to China two years ago. His sales have tripled since.

Market access is easier in China

Customers rarely have to waste time in China searching for markets and products, said Kasliwal. It took him less than a week to buy a three-month consignment that ranged from jewelry to fabric.

“Even small market-towns like Yiwu — comparable to Varanasi in terms of population — have a one-stop, dedicated market for all consumer durables, from fashion to home accessories, with cost and quality options,” he said. “In India, it would take us weeks.”

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(Abhishek Waghmare is an analyst with IndiaSpend)

India’s decision to seal Pakistan border irrational, will complicate relations with Beijing: Chinese media

Beijing: India’s move to completely seal its border with Pakistan was a ” very irrational decision” and would further complicate India-China relations considering Beijing’s “all-weather” strategic ties with Islamabad, a state media report on Tuesday quoted leading experts as saying.

“India is making a very irrational decision, since no exhaustive investigation has been conducted after the Uri incident, and no evidence proves Pakistan is behind the attack,” the Global Times quoted Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow from the official thinktank Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy, as saying.

Hu was commenting on Home Minister Rajnath Singh‘s announcement on Friday that the 3,323-km-long border between India and Pakistan would be “completely sealed” by December 2018.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

A “completely sealed” border would further hinder the already scarce border trade and talks between the two countries, Hu said.

Wang Dehua, director of the Institute for Southern and Central Asian Studies at the Shanghai Municipal Centre for International Studies, said that a sealed border would only disrupt peace efforts made by the two sides.

“The country’s decision reflects its Cold War mentality, and would only cause deeper hatred among residents living in Indian- and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir,” Hu added.

Since Pakistan is China’s “all-weather” strategic partner, India’s decision would make China-Pakistan-India relations more complicated, Hu said.

But he said a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute is in the interest of China’s homeland security, especially its western regions.

Their hardline comments come ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India this week to take part in the BRICS Summit in Goa during which he would meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

This will be their second meeting in two months. The two met on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou last month.

On Monday, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong defended China’s “technical hold” in the UN on a ban on Masood Azhar, the head of Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Muhammad.

“China is opposed to all forms of terrorism. There should be no double standards on counter terrorism. Nor should one pursue own political gains in the name of counter terrorism,” he had said indirectly accusing India.

dna Morning Must Reads: EC plans to put Modi’s 10 mn overseas Indians on voters’ list; terrorists mouse-trapped in J&K; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Modi’s 10 mn Indian overseas votebank: Election Commission puts long discussed idea on trackIndian democracy to get 10 million more votes. Read more. 2. Terrorists mouse-trapped in J&K; second attack on EDI in nine monthsThis is the second time in nine months that fidayeens have been holed up in the EDI complex. Read more. 3. Letter from the Editor: All New DNA – No Junk, Just NewsThis spanking new newspaper will change the rules of the game. It will only pack in information that is important to readers, instead of bombarding them with news. Read more.4. NSG issue: PM Modi’s diplomatic skill on test again with Chinese President Xi JinpingPresident Xi will arrive in Goa on Saturday to attend the BRICS summit, before travelling to Cambodia and Bangladesh. Read more.5. I like playing characters who dream big: Sushant Singh RajputSuushant Singh Rajput on playing India’s first paralympic gold medallist. Read more.

DRI seizes illegal Chinese firecrackers worth Rs 9 crore in Delhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India has for long had a love-hate relationship with foreign firecrackers, especially Chinese ones. Despite continuous efforts by the government to crack down on China-made firecrackers, especially during the festive season, smugglers always try to find a way in.This was demonstrated all too well when on Sunday morning, the Director of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) seized nine crores worth of China-made firecrackers, at the Inland Container Department in Tughlaqabad, on the outskirts of the Capital. Authorities said that the crackers—found in six containers, each of which was 40-foot-long—bore names like ‘Leopard King’ and ‘Pop Pop Snappers.’But it was no easy task to find them. The containers were packed with permissible items like bicycle, iron baskets, and steel wheel chairs among other things. It was only in the innermost carton that they found the banned fire crackers.Authorities said the goods had been declared at Customs as medical equipment and bicycle parts for the physically challenged. This is how they were able to enter the country.Sources in the DRI claimed the Chinese crackers were being trafficked by a Punjab based businessman Anil Singla. They added Singla, in active connivance with Delhi based custom broker Vikash Gupta, had used a dummy Import Export Code (IEC) code to bring the crackers into the country. Incidentally, Gupta is associated with a shipping company Falcon India Ltd. The DRI has arrested both Singla as well as Gupta.This is not the first big haul of smuggled firecrackers into the country. In August, the DRI seized firecrackers worth Rs 7.2 crore in Mumbai port which were again loaded inside cargo containers labelled as “Adhesive Tapes” and “Badminton Rackets”.Fireworks are restricted for import under the Foreign Trade policy 2015-16. The Union Home Affairs Ministry has issued an advisory to states cautioning them about Chinese firecrackers, which are more likely to cause fire incidents than others.This year, DRI has increased its surveillance to crack down such illegal smuggling of firecrackers. In Delhi, DRI officials say that Rs 11 crore worth of illegal firecrackers have been seized in the Capital this year.

Water resource ministry team to visit Bangladesh soon to discuss Ganges barrage project

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bangladesh is keen to have India as a “stakeholder” in the proposed US $4 billion Ganges barrage project and a team from India’s water resources ministry will soon visit Dhaka to hold talks in this regard, a senior minister has said.State Minister for Water Resources Nazrul Islam said two Chinese firms were keen to wholly finance the project and even Japan was willing to fund at least US $2 billion. “But because the Ganges flows into Bangladesh from India, we take a long term view of the project and our prime minister is keen to get India into it,” he told bdnews24 online.He said a team from India’s water resources ministry will soon visit Dhaka to hold discussions on the barrage project. “The issue was raised during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dhaka last year. He showed much interest and Indian officials later asked for the project details which we have provided,” Islam said.He said funding was not a problem for the project. “Two Chinese companies have offered full finance while the Japanese have said they can put in half the project cost and we can manage the rest, but it makes long-term sense to have India involved because the Ganges flow into Bangladesh from India,” Islam said.The Ganges barrage will be a 165-kilometre long reservoir running from Rajbarhi to Chapainawabganj districts, with a depth of 12.5 metres. It will hold a phenomenal 2.9 billion cubic litres and cost Tk 314 billion (approximately US $4 billion). The barrage will retain the water of the trans-boundary river Ganga, known as the Padma in Bangladesh, during the monsoon and feed small rivers during the lean season.This will help Bangladesh flush the small rivers and reduce salinity, a major threat to public health and agriculture in the country’s southwest. Islam sought to allay fears of flooding on the Indian side of the Ganges. “The project has provided for allocations for upgrading and raising embankments on the Indian side to avoid any flooding,” he said.

Sri Lanka raises concerns about Saarc’s future

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) could be one of casualties of the ongoing India-Pakistan tensions. This was indicated here by the visiting Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who said that all SAARC member countries were exploring options, in the wake of the regional grouping not showing any progress.Interacting with the media after talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, Wickremesinghe said even if Saarc falls apart, cross-border terrorism will not end so India has to see how to move forward in dealing with it.”Cross-border terrorism is on the table. Saarc has to look at it and discuss what has happened (cancellation of SAARC summit). How we are going to handle it? Saarc has to decide on two issues — cross-border terrorism and areas in which we can work together. If we don’t do it, there is no future for Saarc,” the Sri Lankan PM said while noting that, in the last few years, nothing has moved in the grouping due to frictions between two members – India and Pakistan. He also said the war is not an option, but appreciated PM Modi for taking steps to defuse the tension.Emphasising that Sri Lanka has also been impacted by terrorism, Wickremesinghe said it takes a long time, and efforts should be made to ensure that cross-border terrorism is stopped. “Since we have looked at it in overall context, what I discussed with your government is how does Saarc move from here…And ensure that there was no cross-border terrorism in India or any other country,” he said. Noting that India is unique and can make SouthAsia a better place, he said it was up to the country whether it wants to do this or walk away.He also exhorted India and Pakistan to tackle the issue of cross-border terrorism or the future of the regional grouping. Wickremesinghe also sought to allay any fears regarding the country’s bilateral ties with China. “The relationship with China is economic, not a military one. Chinese were involved in infrastructure development projects in Sri Lanka,” said Wickremesinghe.

Cross border terror must be on Saarc agenda: Sri Lankan PM Ranil Wickremesinghe

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has always been a friend of India even at a time when most Sinhala political leaders disliked New Delhi for its support of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Ahead of his visit to India, Sri Lanka too pulled out of the Islamabad Saarc Summit and sent a reassuring message of support to the Narendra Modi government.

“There is no future for Saarc unless cross-border terrorism is brought to the table for discussion,” Wickremesinghe said at a news conference on Wednesday in Delhi. He explained that the issue of cross-border terrorism is of concern to many members of Saarc and has to be dealt with if the group wants to remain relevant. He said a decision on this vital issue has to be taken soon.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. AFPSri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. AFP

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. AFP

There have been murmurs in Sri Lanka about it pulling out of Saarc. The opposition have said it was because of New Delhi’s insistence that Colombo fell in line. The opposition has slammed the decision as a “foreign policy blunder.”

Udaya Gammanpila, a staunch supporter of former president Rajapaksa, said the decision was a snub to Pakistan, a “friend” of Sri Lanka. “Sri Lanka was aware of Pakistan’s decision to postpone the summit. Still, they went ahead to announce that Sri Lanka was not taking part,” Gammanpila, said. “It is a fatal mistake to take the side of India and boycott Saarc by hurting Pakistan”, he added. Colombo’s ties with Pakistan have always been good. In fact, during the army campaign against the LTTE, it was Pakistan which provided Si Lanka with military hardware whenever it wanted. Though New Delhi supported Rajapaksa’s war against the Tigers, it did not provide any lethal arms to Colombo because of domestic considerations.

Some section of the Lankan bureaucracy is unhappy over what is being seen as Delhi’s arm twisting. “We are a sovereign nation, however, small we may be, and have a right to come to take our own decisions,” an official, contacted by phone in Colombo said. He naturally did not wish to be identified. “We have faced terror and know its consequences, but that does not mean we have to be hustled into making announcements.” Many are angry with the Sirisena-Wickremansinhe duo for bending to India’s diktats.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, who flew into Delhi from New Zealand, had said in a speech there that Saarc had a bleak future and Colombo would have to look for other “viable options”. “This year’s Saarc Summit is in jeopardy due to the war prevailing on the border. However, as Saarc plays an important role, carrying out the Summit is a matter of great importance,” he is quoted by agencies as having said in his address.

At a news conference in Delhi on Wednesday, the visiting Prime Minister made the same point: “Cross-border terrorism is a big issue (in Saarc) and we have to discuss how to tackle it.”

During the 1985 Saarc Summit, Colombo had suggested that countering terrorism should be taken up as an issue by member states, but this was shot down. As a friend of India, Wickremasinghe said perhaps the time was not ripe for that idea in 1985. India had supported the LTTE fight for Tamil rights and did not agree to dub the LTTE as a terror group. Colombo had then accused India of harbouring terrorists.

It is a fact that smaller Saarc countries had always been held hostage to India and Pakistan relations. When Chandrika Kumaratunga was President, she had spoken out against this and suggested that Saarc should play a role in solving problems arising between member states of the group. This was naturally shot down by India, saying that Saarc was an economic group. Saarc’s failure as an organisation has much to do with India-Pakistan hostility. Both countries would block moves made by the other.

Answering a question on India-Pakistan, Wickremesinghe said, “Don’t think war (India-Pak) is an option, your PM (Narendra Modi) has taken a lot of steps to defuse tensions.” He went on to add that Modi must be complimented for showing “the restraint he has shown.”

He was asked about Colombo’s ties with China. Mahinda Rajapakse had been a close friend of China and signed a $1.4 billion deal to allow the Chinese to build a brand new port city in Colombo. The project was kept on hold by the new government for environmental concerns. But earlier this year the project was cleared. Colombo is hoping to build a manufacturing and trade hub in the port town. Sri Lanka also has plans to turn the port of Hambantota into another Shenzhen — the city that was at the heart of former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s reforms. Wickremesinghe said that Sri Lanka’s relations with China were “economic and not military.”

The Prime Minister said that while Colombo had these two major projects with China, its economic ties with India was much more.

“With India, we are doing a lot more… infrastructure projects, road projects, military co operation…. China has no military presence in projects such as Hambantota (the port built by China). But with India, we have strategic and military ties”