Why India is Clueless about China

A prosperous, militarily strong China cannot but be a threat to its neighbours, especially if there are no constraints on the exercise of Chinese power, notes Brahma Chellaney, professor of strategic studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.

The latest round of the unending and fruitless India-China talks on territorial disputes was a fresh reminder of the eroding utility of this process. It is approaching nearly three decades since China and India began these negotiations.

In this period, the world has changed fundamentally. Indeed, with its rapidly accumulating military and economic power, China itself has emerged as a great power in the making, with Washington’s Asia policy now manifestly Sino-centric. Not only has India allowed its military and nuclear asymmetry with China to grow, but also New Delhi’s room for diplomatic maneuver is shrinking. As the just retired Indian Navy Chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, has put it plainly, the power ‘gap between the two is just too wide to bridge and getting wider by the day.’

Of course, power asymmetry in inter-State relations does not mean the weaker side must bend to the dictates of the stronger or seek to propitiate it. Wise strategy, coupled with good diplomacy, is the art of offsetting or neutralising military or economic power imbalance with another state. But as Admiral Mehta warned, ‘China is in the process of consolidating its comprehensive national power and creating formidable military capabilities. Once it is done, China is likely to be more assertive on its claims, especially in the immediate neighbourhood.’

It is thus obvious that the longer the process of border-related talks continues without yielding tangible results, the greater the space Beijing will have to mount strategic pressure on India and the greater its leverage in the negotiations.

After all, China already holds the military advantage on the ground. Its forces control the heights along the long 4,057-kilometre Himalayan frontier, with the Indian troops perched largely on the lower levels.

Furthermore, by building new railroads, airports and highways in Tibet, China is now in a position to rapidly move additional forces to the border to potentially strike at India at a time of its choosing.

Diplomatically, China is a contented party, having occupied what it wanted — the Aksai Chin plateau, which is almost the size of Switzerland and provides the only accessible Tibet-Xinjiang route through the Karakoram passes of the Kunlun Mountains. Yet it chooses to press claims on additional Indian territories as part of a grand strategy to gain leverage in bilateral relations and, more importantly, to keep India under military and diplomatic pressure.

At the core of its strategy is an apparent resolve to indefinitely hold off on a border settlement with India through an overt refusal to accept the territorial status quo.

In not hiding its intent to further redraw the Himalayan frontiers, Beijing only helps highlight the futility of the ongoing process of political negotiations. After all, the territorial status quo can be changed not through political talks but by further military conquest.

Yet, paradoxically, the political process remains important for Beijing to provide the façade of engagement behind which to seek India’s containment.

Keeping India engaged in endless talks is a key Chinese objective so that Beijing can continue its work on changing the Himalayan balance decisively in its favour through a greater build-up of military power and logistical capabilities.

That is why China has sought to shield the negotiating process from the perceptible hardening of its stance towards New Delhi and the vituperative attacks against India in its State-run media. Add to the picture the aggressive patrolling of the Himalayan frontier by the People’s Liberation Army and the growing Chinese incursions across the line of control.

Let’s be clear: Chinese negotiating tactics have shifted markedly over the decades. Beijing originally floated the swap idea — giving up its claims in India’s northeast in return for Indian acceptance of the Chinese control over a part of Ladakh — to legalise its occupation of Aksai Chin. It then sang the mantra of putting the territorial disputes on the backburner so that the two countries could concentrate on building close, mutually beneficial relations.

But in more recent years, in keeping with its rising strength, China has escalated border tensions and military incursions while assertively laying claim to Arunachal Pradesh.

According to a recent report in Ming Pao, a Hong Kong newspaper with close ties to the establishment in Beijing, China is seeking ‘just’ 28 per cent of Arunachal. That means an area nearly the size of Taiwan.

In that light, can the Sino-Indian border talks be kept going indefinitely? Consider two important facts:

First, the present border negotiations have been going on continuously since 1981, making them already the longest and the most-barren process between any two countries in modern history. The record includes eight rounds of senior-level talks between 1981 and 1987, 14 Joint Working Group meetings between 1988 and 2002, and 13 rounds of talks between the designated Special Representatives since 2003.

It seems the only progress in this process is that India’s choice of words in public is now the same as China’s. ‘Both countries have agreed to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement of this issue,’ Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna told Parliament on July 31. ‘The matter, of course, is complex and requires time and lots of patience.’

It was as if the Chinese foreign minister was speaking. Isn’t it odd for India — the country at the receiving end of growing Chinese bellicosity — to plead for more time and patience after nearly three decades of negotiations?

Second, the authoritative People’s Daily — the Communist Party mouthpiece that reflects official thinking — made it clear in a June 11, 2009 editorial: ‘China won’t make any compromises in its border disputes with India.’ That reflects the Chinese position in the negotiations. But when Beijing is advertising its uncompromising stance, doesn’t New Delhi get the message?

The recent essay posted on a Chinese quasi-official Web site that called for India to be broken into 20 to 30 sovereign States cannot obscure an important fact: Dismember India is a project China launched in the Mao years when it trained and armed Naga and Mizo guerrillas. In initiating its proxy war against India, Pakistan merely took a leaf out of the Chinese book.

Today, China’s muscle-flexing along the Himalayas cannot be ignored. After all, even when China was poor and backward, it employed brute force to annex Xinjiang (1949) and Tibet (1950), to raid South Korea (1950), to invade India (1962), to initiate a border conflict with the Soviet Union through a military ambush (1969) and to attack Vietnam (1979).

A prosperous, militarily strong China cannot but be a threat to its neighbours, especially if there are no constraints on the exercise of Chinese power.

So, the key question is: What does India gain by staying put in an interminably barren negotiating process with China? By persisting with this process, isn’t India aiding the Chinese engagement-with-containment strategy by providing Beijing the cover it needs?

While Beijing’s strategy and tactics are apparent, India has had difficulty to define a game plan and resolutely pursue clearly laid-out objectives. Still, staying put in a barren process cannot be an end in itself for India.

India indeed has retreated to an increasingly defensive position territorially, with the spotlight now on China’s Tibet-linked claim to Arunachal Pradesh than on Tibet’s status itself.

Now you know why Beijing invested so much political capital over the years in getting India to gradually accept Tibet as part of the territory of the People’s Republic. Its success on that score has helped narrow the dispute to what it claims. That neatly meshes with China’s long-standing negotiating stance.

What it occupies is Chinese territory, and what it claims must be on the table to be settled on the basis of give-and-take — or as it puts it in reasonably sounding terms, on the basis of ‘mutual accommodation and mutual understanding.’

As a result, India has been left in the unenviable position of having to fend off Chinese territorial demands. In fact, history is in danger of repeating itself as India gets sucked into a 1950s-style trap. The issue then was Aksai Chin; the issue now is Arunachal.

But rather than put the focus on the source of China’s claim — Tibet — and Beijing’s attempt to territorially enlarge its Tibet annexation to what it calls ‘southern Tibet,’ India is willing to be taken ad infinitum around the mulberry bush.

Just because New Delhi has accepted Tibet to be part of China should not prevent it from gently shining a spotlight on Tibet as the lingering core issue.

Yet India’s long record of political diffidence only emboldens Beijing. India accepted the Chinese annexation of Tibet and surrendered its own British-inherited extraterritorial rights over Tibet on a silver platter without asking for anything in return. Now, China wants India to display the same ‘amicable spirit’ and hand over to it at least the Tawang valley.

Take the period since the border talks were ‘elevated’ to the level of special representatives in 2003. India first got into an extended exercise with Beijing to define general principles to govern a border settlement, despite China’s egregious record of flouting the Panchsheel principles and committing naked aggression in 1962. But no sooner had the border-related principles been unveiled in 2005 with fanfare than Beijing jettisoned the do-not-disturb-the-settled-populations principle to buttress its claim to Arunachal.

Yet, as the most-recent round of recent talks highlighted, India has agreed to let the negotiations go off at a tangent by broadening them into a diffused strategic dialogue — to the delight of Beijing. The process now has become a means for the two sides to discuss ‘the entire gamut of bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual interest.’

This not only opens yet another chapter in an increasingly directionless process, but also lets China condition a border settlement to the achievement of greater Sino-Indian strategic congruence. Worse still, New Delhi is to observe 2010 — the 60th anniversary of China becoming India’s neighbour by gobbling up Tibet — as the ‘Year of Friendship with China’ in India.

Brahma Chellaney

Sorce: REDIFF

 

China should break up India: Chinese strategist

Almost coinciding with the 13th round of Sino-Indian border talks (New Delhi , August 7-8, 2009), an article (in the Chinese language) has appeared in China captioned ‘If China takes a little action, the so-called Great Indian Federation can be broken up’ (Zhong Guo Zhan Lue Gang, www.iiss.cn, Chinese, August 8, 2009).
Interestingly, it has been reproduced in several other strategic and military Web sites of the country and by all means, targets the domestic audience. The authoritative host site is located in Beijing  and is the new edition of one, which so far represented the China International Institute for Strategic Studies (www.chinaiiss.org).

Claiming that Beijing’s ‘China-Centric’ Asian strategy, provides for splitting India, the writer of the article, Zhan Lue (strategy), has found that New Delhi’s corresponding ‘India-Centric’ policy in Asia, is in reality a ‘Hindustan centric’ one. Stating that on the other hand ‘local centres’ exist in several of the country’s provinces (excepting for the UP and certain northern regions), Zhan Lue has felt that in the face of such local characteristics, the ‘so-called’ Indian nation cannot be considered as one having existed in history.

According to the article, if India today relies on any thing for unity, it is the Hindu religion. The partition of the country was based on religion. Stating that today nation states are the main current in the world, it has said that India could only be termed now as a ‘Hindu religious state’. Adding that Hinduism is a decadent religion as it allows caste exploitation and is unhelpful to the country’s modernisation, it described the Indian government as one in a dilemma with regard to eradication of the caste system as it realises that the process to do away with castes may shake the foundation of the consciousness of the Indian nation.

The writer has argued that in view of the above, China in its own interest and the progress of Asia, should join forces with different nationalities like the Assamese, Tamils, and Kashmiris and support the latter in establishing independent nation-States of their own, out of India. In particular, the ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom) in Assam, a territory neighboring China, can be helped by China so that Assam realises its national independence.

The article has also felt that for Bangladesh, the biggest threat is from India, which wants to develop a great Indian Federation extending from Afghanistan to Myanmar. India is also targeting China with support to Vietnam’s efforts to occupy Nansha (Spratly) group of islands in South China Sea.

Hence the need for China’s consolidation of its alliance with Bangladesh, a country with which the US and Japan  are also improving their relations to counter China.

It has pointed out that China can give political support to Bangladesh enabling the latter to encourage ethnic Bengalis in India to get rid of Indian control and unite with Bangladesh as one Bengali nation; if the same is not possible, creation of at least another free Bengali nation state as a friendly neighbour of Bangladesh, would be desirable, for the purpose of weakening India’s expansion and threat aimed at forming a ‘unified South Asia’.

The punch line in the article has been that to split India, China can bring into its fold countries like Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan, support ULFA in attaining its goal for Assam’s independence, back aspirations of Indian nationalities like the Tamils and Nagas, encourage Bangladesh to give a push to the independence of West Bengal  and lastly recover the 90,000 sq km territory in southern Tibet .

Wishing for India’s break-up into 20 to 30 nation-States like in Europe, the article has concluded by saying that if the consciousness of nationalities in India could be aroused, social reforms in South Asia can be achieved, the caste system can be eradicated and the region can march along the road of prosperity.

The Chinese article in question will certainly outrage readers in India. Its suggestion that China can follow a strategy to dismember India, a country always with a tradition of unity in diversity, is atrocious, to say the least. The write-up could not have been published without the permission of the Chinese authorities, but it is sure that Beijing will wash its hands out of this if the matter is taken up with it by New Delhi.

It has generally been seen that China is speaking in two voices — its diplomatic interlocutors have always shown understanding during their dealings with their Indian counterparts, but its selected media is pouring venom on India in their reporting. Which one to believe is a question confronting the public opinion and even policy makers in India.

In any case, an approach of panic towards such outbursts will be a mistake, but also ignoring them will prove to be costly for India.

— By: D S Rajan, is Director, Chennai Centre for China Studies.

Source: REDIFF

The VIP syndrome

It was just as I thought it would be. Amidst all the rage over frisking of our former president, A P J Abdul Kalam himself never registered a protest. From whatever I have known of him through papers, one minor brush with him at the Ahmedabad airport following his visit to Gujarat after the 2002 riots and his books, I felt he would not have objected to going through a security check.

He comes across as a humble and learned man and he reflected the same when the incident happened at New Delhi. Perhaps he understands that the security requirements of the present time are much different from the law that was written in 1934. 9/11 had never happened then and certainly IC 814 had not been hijacked. He knew his responsibility and he acted accordingly.

While it can always be debated whether Kalam was particularly checked for the way his name sounds, we should also hope that other “VVIPs” act in the same dignified manner when asked for security checks. They are no super mortals and they need to realise that. In fact at a time when the agencies across the world use diplomatic channels to carry out espionage activities, it is time we think over a “VVIP” Act, written nearly seven decades ago. Our VVIPs are incensed because they consider themselves demi gods and frisking would dent that image. And therefore this entire song and dance.

We have always been complaining that most of the acts under our law are archaic. Then doesn’t this act be one so as well? Shouldn’t we work toward amending this too? The security needs have changed and so the act must change too.

Coming back to Kalam, he has again come forth as a model citizen and its not only MPs and VVIPs who should learn from him but we too need to realise that security checks help us. Be it at malls, stations or airports, if we complain about them, then we should not complain about terror acts.

And as far as getting even with America comes, we should frisk all VVIPs and could have done it when Hillary Clinton was in India. Remember the old adage? Don’t get mad, get even.
 

By Shailendra Mohan, Monday July 27, 2009 , New Delhi, India  
Source: NDTV

Ten Years Later: The War India Forgot!

It used to be an eerie landmark; the tree I saw everyday in the summer of 1999, blackened and ripped by incessant bombing at the old brigade headquarters, is green again.

But much else has withered. The legacy of the Kargil war, one of the toughest wars of modern military history — far tougher than Iraq and Afghanistan — has been shortchanged by India’s politics. 
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government has mostly looked away since 2004 when it came to observing the anniversary of the BJP government-era war. President Pratibha Patil was requested to come to Drass, but declined, army sources said.

“I think it’s just disgraceful. They are trying to politicise the issue for no reason,” retired Colonel VN Thapar, father of the late Kargil war hero Capt. Vijayant Thapar, told the Hindustan Times as he prepared to head to Drass, the world’s second coldest inhabited place after Oymyakon in Russia.

That is the casualty in a country where a major section of its under-15 population of 350 million have no recollection of the war and no sense of what it meant for India.

“We used to think armymen live a cushy life and zoom around in cars and waste money — I had no empathy for the Army,” said Manraj Singh, 19, a physical education student from Punjab’s Abohar town, as he sat back after dinner at a restaurant in Drass, a town of 2,000 people. “After we came here and saw how and in what kind of place they fought and won the war for the nation I felt really proud of them.”

More than 520 soldiers died in the Kargil war.

In 1999, Indian soldiers had to clamber up impossible, vertical cliffs amid gunfire to retake strategic Ladakh mountains from hundred of Pakistani raiders, including army regulars who sat on the height and could easily bring down approaching soldiers.

On July 26, the day when victory was declared in 1999, Defence Minister A.K. Antony will only pay a wreath in New Delhi, staying away from the massive 10th anniversary celebration planned in the operational hub of Drass on the weekend when top generals from across India and the families of slain officers and soldiers are to arrive here.

Congress MP Rashid Alvi called it “Bharatiya Janata Party’s war”. Coal Minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal said he did not know about the anniversary.

A top army officer shrugged it off. “We chose this life. We aren’t cribbing or hankering after praise. We shall honour our heroes ourselves,” said the officer, declining to be named as he is not authorised to talk to the media.

But Thapar, whose son Vijayant died fighting as he led an advance on a mountain feature called Knoll, said: “This is going a bit too far. I think we should not expect anything from the leaders and have the army and citizens celebrate.”

That is what is happening.

Unlike previous years when Drass hosted mostly western backpackers Indians dominate the tourists who have come here for the summer.

Yes, the former bombed-out dusty town is now a tourist hub.

The town where the ‘market’ was a row of crumbling wooden-shuttered shacks, and just a tea shop for some shelling-time reprieve, now has several small hotels “with complete sanitary fittings” — as one proudly advertised.

“It’s amazing so many Indian tourists are coming this year,” said Mohammed Saleem, 45, of the Afzal hotel. “They want to know what happened at Tiger Hill and Tololing peak and Drass.”

Businessman Saleem Iqbal, 25, sees a greater opportunity.

“If we get permission to take tourists to Tiger Hill on horseback, there will be a big boom,” he said.

Not like the ones he heard everyday in the summer of 1999 as he hunkered fearfully in his first floor marketside home.

 Source: Hindustan Times

Revisiting Kargil with Ex Army Chief VP Malik

Mumbai: Ten years after India’s stirring military victory at Tiger Hill in Kargil, the then Army Chief General VP Malik has broken his silence.

For the first time on television, he has confessed that the high casualties suffered by the Indian Army during the Kargil War were agonising for the military leadership. The General bares his heart out in a rare emotional interview to CNN-IBN’s Vishal Thapar.

For the General who led the blood and guts Indian fight back at Kargil, the deaths of 527 troops in pushing out Pakistani intruders were traumatic. “The most critical moment I was always scared of was the morning briefing, when I was told that in the last 24 hours we have lost so many people. That was the most scary part of the day for me,” said the war-time Army Chief.

As the Indian fight back rolled on from Tololing to Tiger Hill, the death of heroes like Captain Vikram Batra – whom he had personally commended for valour in the battlefield – were heavy blows. I remember giving him a bottle of scotch after his first battle, which he had done so well. After .4875 had been captured, there was no Vikram Batra because we had lost him. So it hurts,” described Gneral Malik.

Captain Batra’s victory call sign, Yeh Dil Maange More (the heart desires more), is one of the iconic highlights of the brutal war, it still haunts General Malik. “I’ve still got that clip with me,” said General Malik. In the thick of all the mayhem of the battlefield, there was loneliness for the man in the middle.

“Those were tense moments and sometimes we didn’t sleep properly,” he said.

With his country’s honour and his own reputation on the line, the General turned to his foot soldier on the battlefront for motivation.

“In Kargil nobody ever told me this can’t be done, every soldier was full of high spirit,” he recalled. It was the spirit of the Indian soldier on the battlefield, which steeled the leadership. And therein a famous victory was forced.

Source: IBN

Lets’ not Forget Them

It’s that time of the year again.
Every July since the year 2000, the Indian media and the Army in that order, celebrates the eviction of Pakistani intruders from the forbidding heights of Drass and Batalik (and not Kargil, as we all in the media keep referring to for some completely unfathomable reason).
The Army, of course, appropriately remembers its martyrs — the young and not so young officers and several hundred jawans — who sacrificed their lives in recapturing a piece of real estate that the Pakistanis had encroached upon. It was a heroic battle against heavy odds. After that conflict, Vikram Batra, Anuj Nayyar, Manjo Pandey, to cite just three martyrs, became household names.
This year, on the 10th anniversary, the Army has planned a larger celebration and rightfully so.
We in the media have also gone into an overdrive to commemorate the occasion.
After all, Kargil was this generation’s first war. It was also India’s first televised war. We made citizens feel that they were part of the war by beaming images right into their bedrooms.
In many ways, Kargil (I actually hate using the word, but Drass or Batalik do not have the same resonance in the people’s mind as Kargil has) is also a landmark in the military-media relationship in India.
Till 1999 the Army establishment generally looked upon the media as a nuisance. Post-Kargil, the armed forces have woken up to the media’s potential as, what the military fondly calls a force-multiplier. An uneasy relationship till then gave way to greater awareness about one another facilitating meaningful interaction.
This year in fact the Army has made special efforts to invite all those who had reported the conflict from the area that summer. This, the Army says, is its tribute to media’s contribution in the Kargil conflict.
I, like many others, was in the sector in 1999, reporting the events for Outlook magazine. Every year since 2000, I too have written or spoken about the experience in the Kargil-Drass-Mushkoh-Batalik sector.
I am also hoping to be at the Drass memorial on 25th and 26th July later this month to meet up with friends who made Kargil (that word again!) such a memorable experience in our life a decade ago.
And yet, ever since I went there last week to report on what has changed and what has not in the decade since the war, a sense of unease has gripped me. At first I thought it was plain tiredness. After all, one is older by a decade and the body doesn’t take the rigours of travelling in the high mountains as easily as it did 10 years ago.
But deep down, I knew there was something more to my disquiet than just creaking old bones.
Then suddenly it hit me this morning: Are we in the media guilty of over hyping Kargil and its martyrs at the cost of totally ignoring the others? To be honest, the answer is yes.
By admitting this, I am in no way taking away the sacrifice and heroism of our soldiers during the 1999 conflict. Or trying to belittle the tough conditions under which we in the media operated and reported the conflict.
But I will also be less than honest if I don’t admit that collectively we in the media are equally culpable in ignoring or downplaying the unending internal battles fought by the Army as well as other security forces across India.
How many of us for instances, know the names of Col. Vasanth or Subedar Chunni Lal? Or for that matter Constable Tukaram Ombale? How many of us remember the faces of the unnamed police and CRPF constables who die by the dozens in the battlefields of Chhattisgarh and Orissa? Or for that matter army jawans who continue to sacrifice their lives in counter-insurgency skirmishes in India’s north-east?
In Kargil, nearly 500 people lost their lives.
Every year since then at least 400 security personnel have died in action across India.
Is their martyrdom less significant? Don’t their families deserve similar adulation? They certainly do but I am afraid even we in the media tend to report on these incidents for a day or two and move on to our next story.
In the process, we have ignored the interminable internal security threats that India faces, be it in Kashmir, the north-east or in the heartland from the Maoists. And underplayed the sacrifices made by the gallant soldiers who fight them.
In less than a fortnight, when the nation pays a collective tribute to the Kargil martyrs, all of us can perhaps introspect and review our attitude towards other, lesser known but equally valiant soldiers who fight on without expecting anything in return.
As I look ahead, post the Kargil anniversary, it is perhaps time for me to do away with my Kargil obsession and refocus on the current and future battles.

Source: NDTV Written by Niting Gokhale

Nervous China may attack India by 2012: Expert

A leading defence expert has projected that China will attack India by 2012 to divert the attention of its own people from “unprecedented” internal dissent, growing unemployment and financial problems that are threatening the hold of Communists in that country.

“China will launch an attack on India before 2012. There are multiple reasons for a desperate Beijing to teach India the final lesson, thereby ensuring Chinese supremacy in Asia in this century,” Bharat Verma, Editor of the Indian Defence Review, has said.

Verma said the recession has “shut the Chinese exports shop”, creating an “unprecedented internal social unrest” which in turn, was severely threatening the grip of the Communists over the society.

Among other reasons for this assessment were rising unemployment, flight of capital worth billions of dollars, depletion of its foreign exchange reserves and growing internal dissent, Verma said in an editorial in the forthcoming issue of the premier defence journal. In addition to this, “The growing irrelevance of Pakistan, their right hand that operates against India on their behest, is increasing the Chinese nervousness,” he said, adding that US President Barak Obama’s Af-Pak policy was primarily Pak-Af policy that has “intelligently set the thief to catch the thief”.

Verma said Beijing was “already rattled, with its proxy Pakistan now literally embroiled in a civil war, losing its sheen against India.” “Above all, it is worried over the growing alliance of India with the US and the West, because the alliance has the potential to create a technologically superior counterpoise.

“All these three concerns of Chinese Communists are best addressed by waging a war against pacifist India to achieve multiple strategic objectives,” he said.

While China “covertly allowed” North Korea to test underground nuclear explosion and carry out missile trials, it was also “increasing its naval presence in South China Sea to coerce into submission those opposing its claim on the Sprately Islands,” the defence expert said. He said it would be “unwise” at this point of time for a recession-hit China to move against the Western interests, including Japan.

“Therefore, the most attractive option is to attack a soft target like India and forcibly occupy its territory in the Northeast,” Verma said. But India is “least prepared” on ground to face the Chinese threat, he says and asks a series of questions on how will India respond to repulse the Chinese game plan or whether Indian leadership would be able to “take the heat of war”.

“Is Indian military equipped to face the two-front wars by Beijing and Islamabad? Is the Indian civil administration geared to meet the internal security challenges that the external actors will sponsor simultaneously through their doctrine of unrestricted warfare? “The answers are an unequivocal ‘no’. Pacifist India is not ready by a long shot either on the internal or the external front,” the defence journal editor says. In view of the “imminent threat” posed by China, “the quickest way to swing out of pacifism to a state of assertion is by injecting military thinking in the civil administration to build the sinews. That will enormously increase the deliverables on ground – from Lalgarh to Tawang,” he says.

Source: Times of India dated 12th July 2009

India gay sex ruling could set precedent: UN

GENEVA: A landmark ruling in India to legalize gay sex could set an example for about 80 countries which still outlaw homosexual sex, a UN agency said on Thursday. It would also encourage more HIV victims in India to come forward to seek treatment and information, added the United Nations joint programme on HIV and AIDS.

“We think this will set an important precedence throughout the world,” said Susan Timberlake, who heads UNAIDS’ human rights and law team. She added that in almost all of the countries that outlaw homosexual sex, “both the law and the homophobia… results in both the denial of human rights of men who have sex with men, transgender people and lesbians, but also in the denial of health care services that they desperately need in the world of HIV.”

Anand Grover, the lawyer who argued the case before New Delhi High Court, described the decision as an “historic event because India was the country where the anti-sodomy laws were first statutorised…and the same law was then replicated all over the British Commonwealth.”

He added that countries that still outlaw homosexual sex can now “use this as a precedent.” “Countries in Africa can use this as a precedent. Same for Asia,” he told journalists in Geneva.

Several Commonwealth countries still view gay sex as illegal, including Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh, and many Caribbean islands. In India, homosexual HIV sufferers would now find it easier to seek information and treatment, said Pradeep Kakkattil who heads UNAIDS’ technical support division.

“What this judgement could help in is encourage men who have sex with men to come out more and seek those services… and it will make much easier for people working in the field to provide that information,” he said.

When homosexual sex was outlawed, patients “would not go to the doctor because of fear of … potentially being reported to the police,” said Kakkattil.

“Besides the threat of imprisonment, these victims also faced blackmail from police,” he said. “Health workers providing help to homosexual HIV sufferers are also working in precarious situations, he added. He said that it’s not uncommon for police to arrest you because you are providing information on something illegal.”

Source: Times of India

The Country Calls

I came across this poem written by Sanjana Khanna on a website. Really liked it so am putting it over here. Indian Army is perhaps the best organization to join. Hopefully thi spoem will act as motivation for the readers. I would also like to thank the poet for such a good poem.

When you see olive green
Be filled with “josh”
‘Coz this is the real Indian team
– Uncorrupted, “sarfarosh”.

When you snuggle in bed
Spare a thought for the soul
Who fights an unseen enemy
In darkness and cold.

For us our soldiers die,
Leaving their families in sorrow.
And remember —
“They give up their today, for our tomorrow.”

They cry out with grit —
“Kill ’em, cut ’em, but kneel not”
And with such burning passion
Isn’t there something we feel not?

Do we still prefer
To join the unemployment queue?
While our country calls —
“Do you have it in you?”

To know more about joining Indian Army, please refer to the following website.
http://www.indianarmy.gov.in
Latest advertisements of Army are available on http://www.freshersworld.com

We’re even more racist than Aussies

The attacks on Indians in Australia have once again raised the ugly head of racism. Once again India is caught up in the midst of a racist storm. A while ago, the Big Brother controversy launched Shilpa Shetty as an international anti-racism icon from India. This is entirely appropriate as Indians are arguably the biggest targets of racism in the world. And they are targeted not just by unlettered British yobs or Australian thugs but, first and foremost, by their own compatriots. It’s because we are so racist ourselves that we are so quick to react to a racist slur: it takes a racist to catch a racist. And our racism is colour-coded in black-and-white terms: white is intrinsically superior and desirable; black is inferior and undesirable.

In the Indian colour scheme of things, black is far from beautiful. The colloquial word for a black person of African origin is ‘habshi’, an epithet as offensive as the American ‘nigger’, both terms derived from the days of the slave trade.

For all India’s official championing of the anti-apartheid crusade in South Africa’s erstwhile white regime, north India at least is steeped in colour prejudice – ask any African student who’s had a taste of Delhi’s campus life. For the north Indian, fair is lovely, as those abominably tasteless TV commercials keep proclaiming: Don’t get sunburnt, use skin whitening creams, or you’ll end up dark and no one will marry you. (When did you last see a matrimonial ad seeking an ‘attractive, dark-complexioned life partner’?)

Why is dark literally beyond the pale for so many of us? Is it an atavistic throwback to the supposed superiority of ‘white’ Aryans vis-a-vis the ‘non-white’ original inhabitants of the subcontinent? Is it the result of 250 years of white rule under the British? Is a pale skin, as against a deep tan, a testimonial to social rank, segregating those who don’t have to toil under the sun from those who do? Is it an amalgam of all these?

Whatever the reason, ‘chitti chamri’ (fair skin) is a passport to fawning social acceptance — which might partly explain why an increasing number of Caucasians look for assignments in India, be it as MNC executives or bartenders in 5-star hotels.

Our racism is largely, but not exclusively, based on colour. Caste is India’s unique contribution to the lexicon of racial bigotry. Whether ‘caste’ – a result of cultural and social segmentation – can legitimately be conflated with ‘race’ – with its genetic and physiological underpinnings – is a matter of academic debate. However, as only too many horror stories testify, the average rural Dalit fares worse on the human-rights scale than her ‘kafir’ counterpart in the worst days of South African apartheid.

Caste apart, real or imagined ethnic traits compound our racism. People from the north-east are said to have ‘Chinky’ (Chinese) eyes and are routinely asked if they eat dogs. Even in so-called ‘mainstream’ India we sub-divide ourselves with pejoratives: ‘Panjus’, whose only culture is agriculture; stingy ‘Marrus’; mercenary ‘Gujjus’ who eat ‘heavy snakes’ for tea; lazy, shiftless ‘Bongs’; ‘Madrasis’, who all live south of the Vindhyas and speak a funny ‘Illay-po’ language. In our ingrained provincialism is our much-vaunted and illusory unity.

No wonder we can’t stand racism. It reminds us disquietingly of the face we see in our own mirror.

Source: TOI