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

20 July 2017

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


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

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

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

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

No common ground on the Doklam plateau

M. K. Narayanan

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

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

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

Cartographic aggression

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

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

by Shubhajit Roy

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

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

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

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

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

Why 2017 is not 1962

Bhopinder Singh

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

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

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

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

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

By Prem Shankar Jha

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

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

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

Repeating a scripted war?

Employment 4.0: bug, not feature

Manish Sabharwal, Rituparna Chakraborty

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

TPP and India: Lessons for Future Gains

Harsha Vardhana Singh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



As China and India find themselves in the middle of yet another military standoffin the high Himalayas, their age-old border problem is back on the boil. Or so it would seem. The underlying causes of the current round of hostilities, which broke out last month in the tri-junction of Sikkim, Tibet and Bhutan where China was building a road, run much deeper and are rooted in the deeper churning in the region as a result of the simultaneous rise of two great and proud peoples.

For much of the 60 years that followed the emergence in the late 1940s of China and India from century-long periods of foreign domination, China remained a bit player in the South Asian-Indian Ocean region (SA-IOR). The tyranny of distance imposed on China by the length between its east coast centres of power and the Indian subcontinent combined with the forbidding terrain of the Tibetan plateau and associated mountain ranges separating China and India helped India hedge against China’s thrusts into the region.

19 July 2017

*** Danger at Dolam

by M Taylor Fravel 

The standoff between Indian and Chinese forces on the Dolam Plateau is entering its fourth week. India and China have both miscalculated, with potentially dire consequences. China clearly did not appreciate the sensitivity that India attaches to any Chinese presence on the Jampheri Ridge south of the plateau and the implications for the security of the Siliguri Corridor that connects eastern India with the rest of the country. A decade ago, for example, Indian soldiers training the Royal Bhutanese Army in Bhutan challenged a Chinese foot patrol that was discovered along the ridge.

India, however, clearly did not appreciate the degree to which China believes it has already established a presence on the plateau, which forms part of China’s dispute with Bhutan in this area. In either the 1980s or early 2000s, China built a dirt road from the Chumbi Valley in Tibet to Shenche La that Bhutan views as the border with China, and then onto the Dolam Plateau. In fact, this road terminates perhaps just 100 metres from the Indian outpost at Doka La, near the site of the current standoff. Probably at the end of the 2000s, China enhanced or regraded the road and added the “turning point” where Chinese vehicles turn around to return to the Chumbi Valley. The road is likely used only in the summer months to facilitate patrols in the area (including surveying Indian presence at Doka La).

Ways to a cooler world - India's thinking on renewable energy is still too myopic

Ashok V. Desai

Global warming is now contested by few; it is part of our personal experience. It has intensified over the past two decades, and will get worse before long. Remedial action against it is urgent. Such action has, however, been impeded by the fact that it is an external diseconomy: my actions to reduce global warming benefit the rest of the world more than me, and I do not see why I should act unless my fellow humans pay me. Hence international action is unlikely unless all - or most of the important - countries agree to cooperate.

Assuming that they did, the question would arise what action they could take. An obvious measure would be to tax carbon emissions. The World Bank created a Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition for this purpose. It appointed a commission chaired by two economists: Joseph Stiglitz, professor at Columbia University, and Lord Stern, the I.G. Patel Professor in the London School of Economics. For convenience, I shall call the carbon pricing commission Stistern Commission.

The commission had before it two models that had been tried out. One is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This convention was called together in 1992. Subsequently, its members have met every few years and exchanged voluntary promises to cut emission. Their last collective act was the Paris agreement of 2015; 185 countries met and agreed to meet every five years to look at what they had achieved and revise their promises. This is the agreement on which Donald Trump has reneged; the United States of America being the world's biggest emitter, its exit must leave the agreement pretty limp.

The 2015 India-Bangladesh land boundary agreement: Identifying constraints and exploring possibilities in Cooch Behar

The border between India and Bangladesh—highly crucial to their bilateral relationship—has always been difficult to manage given, for one, its sheer length. The most important bilateral initiative between Bangladesh and India may yet be the attempt to resolve the longstanding border dispute that arose after the Partition of 1947, by means of the 2015 Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) and the exchange of enclaves (chhitmahals) and adverse possessions between the two countries. Yet the question remains: How far can this agreement and exchange of enclaves and adverse possessions pave the way to resolving other unsettled border-related issues, which remain highly crucial? This paper makes an assessment of the current situation following the exchange of enclaves and adverse possessions between India and Bangladesh.


The 2015 LBA was signed on 6 June 2015 in Bangladesh.[1] The historic agreement facilitated the transfer of 111 enclaves, adding up to 17,160.63 acres, from India to Bangladesh. Conversely, India received 51 enclaves, adding up to 7,110.02 acres, which were in Bangladesh (see Annexures 1 and 2). Prior to this historic agreement, the 2011 Protocol signed between Manmohan Singh of India and Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh agreed to maintain the status quo in addressing the issue of adverse possessions of land, whereby India will receive 2,777.038 acres of land (see Annexure 3) from Bangladesh and in turn transfer 2,267.682 acres of land to Bangladesh (see Annexure 4).[2] The 2011 Protocol was made in an accord with the state governments of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and West Bengal but could not be implemented due to adverse political circumstances. Thus, the 2015 LBA implements the unresolved issues stemming from the un-demarcated land boundary—approximately 6.1-km long—in three sectors, viz. Daikhata-56 (West Bengal), Muhuri River–Belonia (Tripura) and Lathitila–Dumabari (Assam); exchange of enclaves; and adverse possessions, which were first addressed in the 2011 Protocol.[3] It is important to note that in the land swap, Bangladesh gained more territory than India did.

India’s connectivity with its Himalayan neighbours: Possibilities and challenges

India’s relations with Nepal and Bhutan are formally founded on key treaties — the 1950 India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship and the 1949 Treaty of Friendship with Bhutan. Politically, India’s bilateral ties with these two Himalayan neighbours have an important strategic significance as both these countries serve as a buffer zone between India and China. Today, there is plenty of room for further deepening India’s ties with both Nepal and Bhutan, and the recently signed BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement holds promise. For the progress and expansion of economic links, however, it is necessary to develop the requisite hard and soft infrastructure. This report makes an assessment of the different facets of India-Nepal and India-Bhutan bilateral cooperation, comprising issues related to trade-transit, customs and joint border management, legal framework of existing bilateral agreements, and energy cooperation.

18 July 2017

Out of my mind: The opportunity in Kashmir

by Meghnad Desai 

The surprise in Kashmir is not the death of pilgrims caught in the crossfire between militants and the forces trying to maintain law and order. Attacks have become routine, the reactions are predictable and the sequel will be the same as always — nothing will change. The new development this time has been that the separatists of the Hurriyat came out to condemn the killings. They put their names out publicly for their opposition to the attack on the pilgrims to Amarnath to be known.

The Kashmir tragedy has been so routinised and so predictable that nothing ever surprises any longer. The same actions and reactions take place. Every killing of a jihadist is followed by a huge crowd turning out for the funeral, and then more attacks. Hardliners want more to be killed and the moderates want more dialogue.

The first thing to learn from the latest events is that the jihadists are not the same as the Hurriyat. The jihadists are outsiders; if not actually from across the border. They have no loyalty to Kashmir or India. That is not the situation with the Hurriyat. They care for Kashmir. They have a desire for autonomy. Azadi does not mean breaking with India but autonomy for Kashmir in local matters. Kashmir raises such strong reactions that those who are in India, at a distance from Kashmir, want to label this as treason.

Exercise Malabar: China Factor

By Commodore R. S. Vasan IN (Retd.)

From the Staging Port Chennai

The gathering of the top brass along with the crew members from the participating ships which assembled in Chennai for Malabar 2017 exuded great warmth and synergy during all the events in the run up to the exercise. During a reception on July 11th evening on board INS Jalashwa in Chennai rare bonhomie, the spirit of camaraderie and friendship was evident in abundance. The Task Force Commander of the Nimitz group Rear Admiral William Byrne, Jr enthusiastically said that “There are tall ships that will sail, there are small ships that will sail and all those from the three nations will work together in a spirit of friendship during Malabar2017”. Admiral Byrne also had an interesting phrase about China when he said, “China is a potential friend”. It is significant that it was the same seventh fleet at that time led by Enterprise that manoeuvred in the Bay of Bengal in 1971 to bring pressure on the Indian Navy during the war to liberate Bangladesh. Recently, some of the units of that fleet were repaired in India. The changing nature of strategic alliances, geopolitics, the rise of China and India have all transformed the global strategic equations notably in the maritime domain. There has been a constant value added to the relations at the political, strategic, economic and military level notably between the USA, Japan and India. All the three fleet commanders emphasised the need for collaborative and collective efforts in the maritime domain to face the new challenges to effectively contribute to maritime stability and security.

Doklam standoff: Why China wants India to stop defending Bhutan

Prabhash K Dutta

The site of ongoing standoff in Doklam area lies on the Bhutan-China border and India is in the picture only due to its security arrangement with Thimphu.

With both India and China refusing to back off from Doklam area in Bhutan, the stand-off between the two armies is nowhere near its end. India and China have mobilised their troops in thousands in the region to put pressure on the other side.

The site of ongoing standoff in Doklam area lies on the Bhutan-China border and India is in the picture only due to its security arrangement with Thimphu. Bhutan, after issuing demarche to China, requested the Indian Army to help in checking Chinese incursion in the area in the name of road construction.

Bhutan is the only neighbour of China which does not have a diplomatic relation with Beijing. China has been a bully to Bhutan forcing it to make concessions in its territorial jurisdiction. The root cause of the present military tension between India and China lies in the border disputes between Bhutan and China.


Bhutan shares about 470 km-long boundary with China in the west and north while India surrounds Bhutan for 605 km in the east, south and west. China has overlapping claims on or along Bhutan border in seven pockets including the one along Arunachal Pradesh-Bhutan border near Tawang.

Blocked At Doklam, What Will China Do Next? India Needs To Be Ready On Many Fronts

R Jagannathan

India does have some levers against China, especially in trade, but before we use them, we need to be ready for Chinese mischief elsewhere.

We should brace for impact in four areas.

In the ongoing standoff between India and China at the Doklam Plateau near the Bhutan-Sikkim-Tibet trijunction, Indian troops have the edge in this specific geography. The Chinese are breathing fire and threatening war because the Indian army holds the high ground, and any actual military adventure will involve a huge loss of Chinese lives.

However, it is important for India to consider what else the Chinese may try to cause us damage, either for real or to reputation, since India seems unlikely to blink on Doklam. India considers domination of this area vital to security. If the Chinese occupy and control Doklam, their artillery can threaten the Siliguri corridor which connects India to the north-east.

To outthink the Chinese, we thus need to consider what else they may do to maintain their aggressive line, and to put us on the backfoot. We also need to consider our options for retaliation.

Like last year, when a citizen boycott against Chinese goods was gaining ground after it vetoed the declaration of Masood Azhar as a terrorist at the UN Security Council, this time too there are suggestions that mass resistance should be organised against imports from that country.

Indian nuclear forces, 2017

Hans M. Kristensen; Robert S. Norris

India continues to modernize its nuclear arsenal, with at least four new weapon systems now under development to complement or replace existing nuclear-capable aircraft, land-based delivery systems, and sea-based systems. India is estimated to have produced enough plutonium for 150–200 nuclear warheads but has likely produced only 120–130. Nonetheless, additional plutonium will be required to produce warheads for missiles now under development, and India is reportedly building two new plutonium production facilities. India’s nuclear strategy, which has traditionally focused on Pakistan, now appears to place increased emphasis on China. 

India continues to modernize its nuclear arsenal with development of several new nuclear weapon systems. We estimate India currently operates seven nuclear-capable systems: two aircraft, four land-based ballistic missiles, and one sea-based ballistic missile. At least four more systems are in development. The development program is in a dynamic phase, with long-range land- and sea-based missiles emerging for possible deployment within the next decade.

17 July 2017



If you’re struggling to make sense of the latest standoff between the Chinese and Indian militaries 10,000 feet in the Himalayas, don’t fret: You’re in good company. The showdown at Doka La is the product of a multi-layered, multi-party dispute steeped in centuries-old treaties and ambiguous territorial claims. Only recently have sufficient details emerged to piece together a coherent picture of the crisis and we’re still left with more questions than answers. However, one thing is clear: While stare-downs at the disputed China-India border are a common affair, the episode now underway is an altogether different, potentially far more dangerous, beast.

This crisis began in mid-June when Chinese forces were spotted constructing a road near the disputed tri-border linking India, China, and Bhutan, prompting an intervention by Indian troops in nearby Sikkim. Nearly a fortnight later, over 100 soldiers from each side are eyeball-to-eyeball, with India moving thousands more into supportingareas. Each passing week has seen a further hardening of each side’s position.

On July 5 China’s ambassador to India, Luo Zhaohui, described the situation as “grave” and insisted and there was “no scope for compromise.” A vitriolic outburst from China’s Global Times followed, accosting “Cold War-obsessed India” for “humiliating the civilization of the 21st Century.” It mused: