Monday, August 21, 2017
It says: “An Indian official's accusation that China halted sharing hydrological data of a river that flows from China to India has met with demands from Chinese observers that India should withdraw its troops from Chinese territory before pointing fingers at China on secondary issues.”
It then quotes Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs: “For this year, as far as I know, we have not received hydrological data from the Chinese side.”
The Global Times admits that “the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on trans-border rivers in 2013 and India has since been briefed on data on the river's upper reaches,” and points out that though there is no official explanation for “the alleged halt to the data sharing, but Chinese observers have pointed to the escalating tensions in Doklam.”
The two issues are clearly linked.
The mouthpiece of the Communist Party quotes Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences: “Although China is a responsible country, we can't fulfill our obligations to India when it shows no respect to our sovereignty.”
Hu said that China will not agree to carry out normal cooperation on hydrological data with India, unless it agrees to withdraw troops from Doklam.
Another so-called expert, Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told the tabloid: “China agreed to share hydrological data with India to help it prevent hydrological disasters such as flooding and drought, and carry out cooperation on the development and utilization of hydrological resources.”
Zhao put squarely on India the fact that China has not provided the data: “India's move of bringing up the sharing of hydrological data will exacerbate the already existing conflict between China and India,” and he adds: “By infringing on China's sovereignty in Doklam, India has damaged the mutual trust the two neighbors used to enjoy, and China will be hard pressed to cooperate with India on other issues without the mutual trust.”
A division with Bangladesh
The Global Times is trying to create a division between India and Bangladesh writes; “Experts also suggested that India should take other country's interests into consideration when it comes to the exploitation of the Brahmaputra.”
It means that today, China can come back on any agreement/treaty signed after months and years of negotiations, just because it is ‘upset’.
It is not a way of functioning for a ‘normal’ State.
In August 2004, I wrote an article for Rediff.com about the "The Mysterious Tibetan Lake" on the Pareechu (river).
The danger of not sharing the data are clear.
The Mysterious Tibetan Lake
Less than two months ago, there was euphoria in the corridors of South Block as India 'celebrated' 50 years of the Panchsheel Agreement.
'It is not often that you find a former President, five Cabinet ministers, a chief minister, a lieutenant governor and over 20 ambassadors/high commissioners in one place. It happened at a function organised by External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh to release a special cover to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Panchsheel (five principles) at the banquet hall of the Ashoka Hotel,' said jubilant media reports.
The fact that the MEA officials had not checked that the given date did not correspond to the actual signing of the Panchsheel Agreement was a mere detail.
Who cares about such small things between eternal friends?
But surprisingly, it seems last month's friends cannot even help each other in time of distress.
The facts: an artificial lake at Pareechu in Tibet was created, according to the Chinese authorities, by seasonal landslides. Reports suggest that the water level in the lake has been increasing daily. Experts agree that if it bursts, there would be devastating effects in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh.
According to the Survey of India Institute at Dehra Dun, the lake has 114 million cubic metres of water. It is 60 metres deep and has a total area of 230 hectares. The depth was measured by the Institute with data supplied by the National Remote Sensing Agency in Hyderabad which had sent the latest satellite images of the water body to the Institute.
With thousands of human and animal lives under threat, a red alert was issued by the Himachal government, and armed and paramilitary forces were put on a war footing. The Rs 8,500 crore (Rs 8.5 billion) Nathpa Jhakri project which employs more than 1,000 people has been closed due to the alert.
But the matter is even more serious for national security . This area is one of the most strategic on the Indo-China border.
In August 2000, I visited Spiti Valley to attend a conference on Tibetan medicine. I was witness to the devastation caused by the bursting of another 'natural lake created by landslides.' The Kinnaur road, one the most sensitive roads, follows the Sutlej and the Tibetan border.
That year, not a single bridge was intact. To reach Kaza, the headquarters of Spiti Valley, we had to go the long way through Manali and Rothang Pass. Along the way, we kept crossing army vehicles ferrying portable bridges. Apart from the loss of human lives, the Border Roads Organisation had to completely rebuild the road and bridges.
The Tribune in Chandigarh questioned the cause of the floods: 'Even three days after the disaster, the mystery of the flash floods in the Sutlej, which wreaked havoc along its 200 km length in the state, remains unresolved Experts are at a loss to understand where the huge mass of water came from.'
Imagine a 50 feet high wall of water descending into the gorges of Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh! In a few hours, more than 100 peeople died, 120 km of a strategic highway (Chini sector) was washed away and 98 bridges destroyed.
A few months later, a detailed study carried out by ISRO scientists confirmed that the release of excess water accumulated in the Sutlej basin in Tibet had led to the flash floods.
Nearly a year later, India Today commented: 'While the satellite images remain classified, officials of the ministry of water resources indicate that these pictures show the presence of huge water bodies or lakes upstream in Sutlej and Siang river basins before the flash floods took place.'
'However, these lakes disappeared soon after the disaster struck Indian territory. This probably means that the Chinese had breached these water bodies as a result of which lakhs of cusecs of water were released into the Sutlej and Siang river basins,' India Today wrote.
When I mentioned this to Indian 'experts' I was told that 'natural' landslides were happening everywhere and there was no big deal.
Four years later, the 'natural' process has again occurred. This time the Chinese government has informed the Government of India about the impeding mishap, Beijing has remained silent on New Delhi's request to send a fact-finding team to Tibet.
Delhi announced that 'the visit of a four-member technical team -- comprising a mining expert, two members from the Central Water Commission and an expert from the Nathpa hydel project -- to the site has been put off.'
The experts were supposed to have inspected the site and worked with their Chinese counterparts to blast some portions of the lake in order to release the pressure and control the release of the water.
Asked about the steps Beijing has taking to address New Delhi's concerns, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said: 'According to information available from the Tibet Autonomous Region, we know that landslides in surrounding hills caused clogging of the course of a river and China has promptly informed the Indian side of the situation.'
Kong refused to answer when asked if China has given its clearance for the trip to Tibet of the four Indian experts.
Where is the so-called friendship when such a huge area is facing an impeding catastrophe and hundred of human lives and thousands of crores of rupees of damage are at stake?
All the Indian external affairs ministry spokesman could say was: 'We are awaiting clearance from the Chinese side.'
This can only lend to suspicion that the 'natural' lake might not in fact be so 'natural', as ISRO discovered in 2000. At that time, the Chinese had purposely blasted the lake without informing the Indian authorities. But, of course, this was before the reiterating of the Great Principles.
One cannot help thinking that in 1960, when tensions between India and Pakistan were high, the two nations found the wisdom and the courage to sign the Indus Water Treaty. Some may say it was not an ideal document, but at least it had the merit of simply being in existence.
Why can't India and China sign a similar comprehensive treaty today?
Today Beijing swears by a new friendship with India.
'Of course, behind India's initiative of conciliation is its assertive national aspirations,' China Daily said in an August 10 editorial titled 'Sino-Indian ties warming up.' But it also acknowledged that 'India has put forward a multi-faceted diplomacy, of which repairing relations with China is an important part.'
'In the past, India has considered China as its potential threat and main strategic rival. As the gap between China and India in comprehensive national strength widens, India has come to realise that it was a smart move to conciliate with rather than alienate China,' the editorial said.
India does not want to alienate China, but Beijing should also adopt conciliation with Delhi at least on the Himalayan river issue, if not on the border question.
The only thing which is lacking is goodwill.
One can recall the floods two years ago in the southern province of Hunan in China. A swollen Dongting Lake threatened to engulf millions of people. Newspaper reports mentioned 8.4 million people being affected by the floods. At that time the Chinese authorities evacuated 600,000 people in immediate danger.
'More than a million people were piling sandbags and checking for breaches in hundreds of miles of embankments around Dongting that protect 10 million people living in a region of flat, fertile farmland,' said the official news agency, Xinhua.
Why can't the same thing be done in Tibet? I am sure the Government of India would be ready to send manpower and engineers to help.
The Sutlej, like the Indus or the Brahmaputra does not belong to China alone, there are hundreds of millions of stake-holders in South Asia, who also have (through their respective governments) a stake.
One of the problems is that Indian officials never dare to speak up for fear of 'jeopardising' the warming up or the border talks.
Nothing will happen to the border for the next few years, but today the lives of thousands are in danger.
The MEA owes it to the nation to speak up strongly.
Thursday, August 17, 2017
|China would like to forget this map|
Here is the link...
The Chinese trick of hammering the 1890 Convention is very old. But it is mistaken. Beijing cannot justify ‘fixing' the tri-junction by quoting this ‘unequal' Treaty, when nobody knew where this place ‘Gipmochi' was
Two months into the confrontation with China near the tri-junction in between Tibet, Sikkim and Bhutan, the time has come to look at the lessons New Delhi can learn from the stand-off which may continue for several months. There is no doubt that India has won a battle; there will be no Chinese road on the ridge and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) may never be able to peep over into the Siliguri corridor.
Indeed, why should India back out from a legally and militarily strong position? Some in Beijing have started admitting the same, though the Government continues to shout that China’s territory has been invaded. Beijing’s violent reaction is due to internal factors such as the 90th anniversary of the PLA and the forthcoming change of leadership in the Communist Party of China (CPC).
One battle has, however, been lost by New Delhi — it has been unable to explain to the public some historical facts. The lack of a historical division in the Ministry of External Affairs has particularly ill-served India, letting Beijing have a field day. New Delhi did not point out to the Indian (and foreign) media, the Chinese trick about the 1890 Convention (known as the Convention of March 17, 1890, between Great Britain and China, relating to Sikkim and Tibet).
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson in Beijing, as well the tabloid media in the Middle Kingdom, vociferously managed to convince the Indian correspondents in Beijing that it was a valid treaty. However, the fact that the main stakeholders — Tibet and Sikkim (and Bhutan for the tri-junction) — were not even consulted, makes it an ‘imperial treaty’ with no validity.
In his book, Tibet: A Political History, Tsepon WD Shakabpa, the Tibetan politician and famous historian explained, “In 1890, a Convention was drawn up in Calcutta by Lord Lansdowne, the Governor-General of India and Sheng-t’ai, the manchu amban from Lhasa, without consulting the Government of Tibet. The first article of the Convention agreement defined the boundary between Tibet and Sikkim, and the second article recognised a British protectorate over Sikkim, which gave them exclusive control over the internal administration and the foreign relations of that country. There was, however, no corresponding acknowledgment on the part of the British of China’s authority over Tibet.”
Shakabpa continues: “It is also possible that because of the brief clash between the Tibetans and the British at Lungthur (in northern Sikkim in 1888), the manchus were afraid that Tibet and Britain might enter into direct negotiations; they therefore, agreed to a Convention to forestall such a possibility.”
Three years later, trade regulations were discussed over increasing the trade facilities across the Sikkim-Tibet frontier: “Again, the provisions of that agreement could not be enforced because Tibet had not been a party to the negotiations. It is surprising that the British entered into a second agreement with the Manchus, when they knew from the results of the first agreement that there was no way of putting the agreement into effect,” says Shakabpa.
The Convention of 1890 and the Trade Regulations of 1893 proved in practice to be of not the slightest use to the British as Tibet never recognised them; this eventually led London to directly ‘deal’ with Lhasa and send the Younghusband expedition to Lhasa in 1904 and open the doors to organise the tripartite Simla Convention in 1914, with British India, Tibet and China sitting on equal footing.
Today, Beijing speaks of ‘renegotiating’ the 1890 Convention. It would consequently imply that the ‘equal’ treaties signed with the Tibetans, particularly the Simla Convention and the border agreement (defining the McMahon Line) in 1914, would be scrapped and India would have no more border with Tibet in the North-East. The Chinese have tried similar tricks earlier.
In October 1948, the Nationalist Government in Nanjing sent a communication to London, notifying His Majesty’s Government of termination of Tibetan Trade Regulations of 1908. New Delhi was quick to see the game.
In 1943, London had reconsidered its attitude towards China’s suzerainty over Tibet. On August 8, Anthony Eden, Prime Minister of Great Britain, had given Dr TV Soong an informal memorandum containing the British policy towards Tibet: “Since the Chinese Revolution of 1911, when Chinese forces were withdrawn from Tibet, Tibet has enjoyed de facto independence. It has ever since regarded itself as in practice completely autonomous and has opposed Chinese attempts to reassert control.”
In 1948, by referring to the 1908 Treaty, China wanted to erase the 1914 Simla Convention from the books of history, omitting that the 1908 accord was made void by the 1914 agreement. The Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi immediately cabled London that it was aware that “the Tibetan Trade Regulations of 1908 were specifically repealed by Article VII of Simla Convention of 1914.”
Lhasa was then in control of Tibet’s foreign policy; Tibetans could travel from and to India without visa or registration. It was not the case for the Chinese who, when they transited from Tibet to China via India needed a visa.
Hugh Richardson, who represented India in Tibet in the first years after Independence, cited an example: “The Chinese officer at Lhasa has approached the Tibetan Government with a request for help and the Indian mission has asked whether the Tibetan Government agree to the entry of this party.”
A long debate started in the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi on the policy that ought to be followed by independent India vis-à-vis Tibet.
An official pointed out “we only recognise their (Chinese) suzerainty contingent on their genuine recognition of Tibetan autonomy as it has existed for the last 36 years.”
But Nanjing was trying the same old trick: To find a ‘solution’ to the Tibet issue without reference to Tibet; it had worked in 1890. The Tibetan trade regulations of 1908 provided that the regulations would be in force for a period of 10 years and if not denounced. By trying to ‘renew’ it, the Chinese were trying to bypass the 1914 agreement. An official in the Ministry of External Affairs wrote that the Chinese assumed that “the Chinese are emphatic in ignoring the Simla Convention of 1914 of which no mention is made in their note. The trade regulations of 1908 were dead letter for long.”
It was a pretext to force Delhi to forget the 1914 Convention (and thereby the border agreement). However, the diplomats in South Block were not new to Chinese diplomatic niceties, the Foreign Secretary himself having served several years in Nanjing. Had the Indian Ministry accepted the Chinese contention, India and Tibet would have lost the only demarcated border (ie the McMahon Line). When it hammers on the 1890 Convention, Beijing is trying the same old ploy today.
Incidentally, the survey of the tri-junction was done several decades after the 1890 agreement was signed; China can’t justify ‘fixing’ the tri-junction by quoting this ‘unequal’ treaty, when nobody knew where this place ‘Gipmochi’ was.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Apart from the cancellation of the Kailash Yatra, China has taken some new measures to show 'how upset they are' with India's reaction to the construction of a road on Bhutanese territory.
The Pangong Tso Clash
China can’t do much at the trijunction between Sikkim, Tibet and Bhutan, but Beijing has now started retaliating in other areas; while the confrontation continues near Doka La in Bhutan, some Chinese troops tried to occupy an area in Ladakh on the shores of the Pangong Tso.
According to India Today, the incident took place on Tuesday morning and lasted for about half-an-hour; later both sides pulled back: “Indian and Chinese forces had a brief face-off in the north bank of Pangong lake in Ladakh.”
A military source told the publication: “The Chinese patrols lost their way due to bad weather conditions but it ended up with heated exchanges between the two sides resulting in stone pelting as well that caused minor injuries to people on both sides.”
It shows the mounting tension following the Doklam confrontation.
Apparently the incident took place between Finger Four and Finger Five on the Pangong Tso (lake): “India claims the area till Finger Eight but controls and dominates up to Finger Four. The situation was brought under control after thirty minutes of face-off, when both sides held their banners indicating either side to pull back to their respective positions,” says the HT.
The South China Morning Post reported from Hong Kong: “Indian and Chinese soldiers were involved in an altercation in the western Himalayas …further raising tensions between the two countries which are already locked in a two-month stand-off in another part of the disputed border. …The two sides have frequently accused each other of intrusions into each other’s territories, but clashes are rare.”
Some reports say that the Chinese soldiers carried iron rods and stones, and in the melee there were minor injuries on both sides.
Cancellation of the Border Personnel Meetings
Another sign that the tension is mounting: Border Personnel Meetings (BPM) were to be held like every August 15 at five places along the border. This year they did not take place.
India and China hold BPM at five points: Daulat Beg Oldie and Chusul in Ladakh, Kibithoo and Bumla in Arunachal Pradesh and Nathu La in Sikkim.
Though invited the Chinese officials did not turn up. It shows that Beijing has not digested as yet the Doklam incident and the fact that India stopped them building a road.
Some Indian media reported that the meetings could not be held as China’s PLA officials did not respond to communications from the Indian Army.
The Hand-in-Hand joint military exercises
The fate of the annual India-China Hand-in-Hand joint military drill hangs also in balance as India has not received any word from the Chinese side, which is supposed to host the exercise this year.
Since 2007, when it was first held, an Initial Planning Conference (IPC) is held in the host country in June-July but so far there has been a ‘studied silence’ from Beijing, says The Economic Times which cites a source in the Army: “The IPC takes place in the country where the exercise would be held. We sent a message to the Chinese side but there was no response. It should have happened latest but July end, but the IPC never took place.”
They will probably no joint exercises this year.
No Rivers’ flow data
Perhaps more serious, it appears that China had stopped sending the routine information on river water flow of the Sutlej and Brahamaputra.
According to The Hindustan Times: “At a time when major rivers in Himachal Pradesh are in spate due to heavy rain, lack of information from China on water inflow from Pareechu rivulet that meanders through the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) has prompted the Central Water Commission (CWC) to seek intervention of the ministry of water resources.”
It had been agreed that India and China would annually renew the protocol on sharing information on two major rivers — Brahmaputra and Sutlej: “But China has reportedly stopped sharing information with India on water inflow in Pareechu. The lake across the Pareechu river, which was measured the size of 20 football grounds, burst in 2005 causing major flooding in the Sutlej. Gushing waters had washed away the strategic Hindustan-Tibet road, National Highway-22 at a number of places, 10 bridges and 11 ropeways. About 15 motorable bridges and 8 jeepable roads and footbridges were damaged on the 10-km stretch of NH-22 between Wangtoo in Kinnaur and Samdoh in Lahaul Spiti districts.”
The HT’s report continues: “No loss of life was reported as the army and civil authorities anticipating the breach in glacial lake in Pareechu had evacuated 5,000 people along the Sutlej. Total losses caused due to flooding had been pegged at Rs 800 crore.”
The Pareechu river originates in India, then it meanders into Tibet and then merges into the Sutlej near Sumdoh (a border post in India). A glacial lake on Pareechu formed behind a landslide dam in 2004; on June 26, 2005, it busted provoking Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF). After the 2005 GLOF, India and China signed a protocol for sharing information on the water level from Pareechu and the Sutlej.
China has apparently stop sharing information about the water inflow, which makes it dangerous for the local population in Kinnaur.
Senior scientific officer, SS Randhawa told the HT: “The Himachal government constantly monitors the water flow in Pareechu through its department of science technology. But so far the department has been unable to get clear satellite images. Last time, we checked images on July 8 and there was no danger at that time. We use remote sensing technology to monitor the water bodies in the river catchment. But we have been unable to get clear images in the last one week as there are thick clouds over the catchment area.”
I have earlier mentioned the long article in The Global Times about the diversion of the Yarlung Tsangpo/Brahmaputra.
Another warning that Beijing has started retaliating for to the ‘loss’ of its road in Bhutan?
China is indeed playing a dangerous game.
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
“I can only repeat that he is the most dangerous man we have to reckon with”, thus Viceroy Lord Minto spoke of Aurobindo Ghose, the proponent of Purna Swaraj against the mighty British Empire in the early 20th century.
In the afternoon of April 4, 1910, the Pondicherry pier witnessed a scene which will remain etched in history: a strict orthodox Tamil Brahmin, Srinivasachari and Suresh Chakravarti, a 18-year old Bengali revolutionary shared a small boat to reach out to Le Dupleix, a steamer which had just arrived from Calcutta carrying the ‘most dangerous’ man on board.
In his short Bengali book, Smritikatha, Chakravarti gives a humoristic description of the ‘dangerous’ minutes he spent on the rowboat before they could come along side the Dupleix.
Chakravarti had arrived in Pondicherry a few days earlier, scouting for an accommodation for his leader; for the couple of days, Srinivasachari and his friends did not act on his request, thinking that he was a spy. It is only when the arrival of the political leader was confirmed that it was decided to have a reception committee at the pier. The young Bengali managed to dissuade Srinivasachari and others (including Subramanya Bharathi) to have any official function. “Sri Aurobindo's coming to Pondicherry was a closely guarded secret and he would like to live in strict solitude in order to avoid harassment by the agents of the British Government”, says one of Sri Aurobindo’s biographers.
For several months, Sri Aurobindo and his companions stayed on the second floor of a house belonging to one Shankar Chetty; Swami Vivekananda had stayed there when he had visited Pondicherry a few years earlier. In his memoirs, Chakravarti details the material arrangements: as there was no bathroom in Sri Aurobindo’s room, he had to come down to the ground floor at dusk for his bath. The daily menu never changed, same boiled rice, same brinjal, same dal cooked on two earth stoves. Nobody complained ever, the Yogi and his apprentice-yogis.
|Shankar Chetty House|
During the first three months, the young men remained inside the house day and night, it was too dangerous to roam the streets of the White Town; some British agents were certainly looking for a scoop for their promotion.
Life continued thus during the following years, though rules gradually became less strict for the disciples who were even allowed to play football. As for Sri Aurobindo, he was intensely immersed in his sadhana.
One young Tamil boy called Amrita, who later became a senior disciple, recalled that in 1913, "Every evening, a little after dark, [Subramanya] Bharathi would go to Sri Aurobindo's house. He chose that time not with the purpose of avoiding people who would want to make a note of his visit. It was because Sri Aurobindo used to come out of his room and receive his friends only after seven in the evening. An exception, however, was made for close friends like Bharati and Srinivasachari, who, at a very urgent need, could see him at any time of the day. Bharati would visit without fail.”
The 100 years of the Master’s arrival in Pondicherry are today celebrated: politicians will probably garland statues of Sri Aurobindo, ‘scholars’ will recount his achievements and the contribution of the State of Pondicherry to his inner realizations; many will quote Rabindranath (who visited him in 1928): “Rabindranath, O Aurobindo, bows to thee! O friend, my country's friend, O Voice incarnate, free, Of India's soul....The fiery messenger that with the lamp of God Hath come...Rabindranath, O Aurobindo, bows to thee,” but there is another side to the coin.
During the 40 years of his stay in Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo faced constant enmity, to put it mildly, not only from sections of the local population, but also from the representatives of the British Crown, the French Administration as well as local politicians.
Recently I had the good luck to come across a secret file kept in the French National Archives in Nantes (France). This Police Report addressed to the Governor of French India was written in 1928. The local police dispatched the weirdest information to their bosses in Paris. A chapter about the Ashram reads: “It seems that the monastery has no rules, no status, one is at a loss to give a name to this association of foreigners [probably meaning Bengalis] in which all castes and religions meets and fusions [is it a compliment?]. Arawbinda [sic] Ghose would be the incarnation of Siva, the Destroyer God of the Tantric Trinity [sic], Mrs Paul Richard (alias Madame Mira Richard, alias Miradevy, alias Kalidevy, alias “Mother”) would represent Kali, the Goddess of War and Mr Paul Richard himself would be a reincarnation of Jesus Christ [Richard had left Pondicherry 14 years earlier after a short stay]. Two members (we couldn’t get their name) would respectively be St Abraham and Mohamed.”
The creativity of the French Police is difficult to match; they speak of ‘inner disciples’ (the Bengalis) and the ‘outer disciples’, something unknown in Sri Aurobindo’s yoga.
The report goes on for more than 20 pages: “The Great Sage appears to his ‘churchy’ followers twice a year … in a chariot decorated with flowers [Sri Aurobindo never came out of his room]. The adepts had to make offering of no less than 100 rupees.” The Police also speak “of a midnight darshan for inner disciples presided by Arawbinda Ghose himself.” Pure invention.
The British reports were not better. Sri Aurobindo’s sadhana however, continued apparently unhindered; with a few rare exceptions (such as French Governor François Baron), the local hostility was always present.
But there is worse. A shocking event took place in the evening of August 15, 1947. India (and Pondicherry) celebrated India’s Independence; Sri Aurobindo, whose birthday coincided with this momentous event, had just issued a message with his Five Dreams for the future of India and the entire human race, when goons belonging to a local political party turned violent and attacked some of the inmates of the Ashram. Mulshankar, a personal attendant of Sri Aurobindo who had left his duty for a few minutes and gone home for a shower was attacked and killed. Nirodbaran, a close confident of the Master wrote later: “Sri Aurobindo listened quietly [to the news] and his face bore a grave and serious expression that we had not seen before.”
India was free, but the Goonja Raj had begun.
Three years later, to a follower asking his opinion for a new status for French India, Sri Aurobindo wrote: “But if nothing is changed in local conditions and freedom is left for a certain type of politicians and party leaders to make use of their opportunities to pervert everything to their own profit, how are they to be prevented from prolonging the old state of things.”
Undoubtedly the greatest revolutionary of 20th century did not want to ‘prolong the old state of things”, he wanted changes to occur in every field of life, whether political, social, economic or spiritual.
Would politicians and philosophers hearken his words, he would indeed become the most dangerous man, because he dreamt of earth-shaking changes for humanity, and entrenched powers do not like changes.
But one day, his Dreams are bound to give a new shape to India and the World.
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Nobody took it seriously.
Now a new proposal has emerged: to divert the Yarlung Tsangpo to Xinjiang.
According to The Global Times: “Scholars mull project to divert water from Tibet to arid Xinjiang”.
The Party's newspaper adds: “Policy-makers have left plan stranded citing unfeasibility”.
The tabloid explains: “Around 20 scholars met outside Urumqi in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region over the last weekend of July, and discussed the feasibility of diverting water from the heights of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau to Xinjiang's lowland plains, one of the attendees revealed.”
Ren Qunluo, professor at the Xinjiang University of Finance and Economics is quoted as saying: “Water from rivers such as the Yarlung Zangbo River can help turn the vast deserts and arid lands into oasis and farmlands, alleviate population pressure in the east, as well as reduce flood risks in the counties through which the river travels downstream,"
Ren told The Global Times: “Xinjiang has 1.1 million square kilometers of plains, equal in size to all the plains in the country's east. But less than 70,000 square kilometers are arable due to a shortage of water. If all these plains are greened, another China will have been created."
The same old story.
China is obsessed with these diversion schemes (and it conveniently comes at a time of the confrontation with India at the trijunction Bhutan-Tibet-Sikkim).
Incidentally, the Indian journalists 'invited' by the Ministry if Foreign Affairs in Beijing should have asked more details about the new scheme.
The mouthpiece of the Party continues: “”The dream of massive water diversions from soaking-wet Southwest China to the thirsty north has been on the minds of engineers and scholars for decades. But some say this dream could be a nightmare of environmental damage, and these concerns mean the plateau-to-plain project has never been approved.”
India and Bangladesh are not mentioned in the scheme.
The Global Times makes three points.
- Experts want the government to reconsider diverting water from Tibet to parched northern regions
- They claim the project will help stimulate the world economy and create a "second China" in the region's arid plains
- Disagreements remain strong due to the huge cost and possible environmental damage
Information Warfare is going on... full swing.
Here is my old post of January 2015.
On Christmas Day, The New York Times reported: “Within a few days, water that has traveled more than 800 miles for two weeks in one of the world’s most ambitious, and controversial, engineering projects is expected to begin flowing through Beijing faucets.”
The objective of the scheme is to bring water from upper reaches of the Han River, a tributary of the Yangtze, through the central route of the South-to-North Water Diversion project, the second of three routes planned to transfer water from China’s wet south to the dry north. Once fully functional, the Central Diversion is expected to provide a third of the capital’s water needs.
The project is estimated at 80 billion U.S. dollars, says Xinhua, adding: “The completion of the water scheme marked major progress in the nation's enormous south-to-north water diversion project, the largest of its kind in the world.”
The official news agency boasts: “It is another engineering achievement by the Chinese,” quoting the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, the world's longest man-made river, opened in the 13th century for transporting grain.
The pro and the cons of the present project will continue to be debated in the months and years to come; in the meanwhile, some researchers in China have thought of another smaller ‘pilot’ project: to divert the Indus river towards Xinjiang. A detailed report on the scheme is posted by a blogger on the website ScienceNet.cn.
Beijing will argue that this new project is merely the product of the fertile brain of some freelance scientists, and that it has ‘nothing to do with the government’.
You may ask, what is this ScienceNet.cn? According to Wikipedia: “ScienceNet.cn is a science virtual community and science blog,” launched by Science Times Media Group (STMG) and supported by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China “with the mission of establishing a global Chinese science community.”Since January 2007, more than 5,000 scientists and graduate students have posted their papers on ScienceNet. The editorial board of ScienceNet says that it has been ranking first among Chinese science websites.
The blogger quotes Chinese researchers who argue that the other planned 'diversions' require extremely complicated construction plans, large investments, long building periods and face a lot of engineering problems due to the complexity of the issues involved (I would add, and 'displacing millions of people'). It makes these projects difficult to undertake, while a small-scale, with low investment and a quickly realizable scheme, could be an ideal pilot project.
The ‘researchers’ propose to add a South Western segment to the Western Diversion Route (not yet started), which is the third part of the South-to-North Water Diversion project. It would involve the diversion of the waters from the Indus river in Western Tibet (before it enters Ladakh) towards the Tarim Basin in Xinjiang. According to the authors, the scheme would meet the requirements of a ‘pilot’ scheme.
In a summary, the ‘scientists’ explain that the water diversion project referred to in their paper could be called “the South Western section of Western Route Project”; water could be taken from the Tibetan Plateau in the West and brought by gravity to the Tarim Basin in Xinjiang. The text describes the preliminary survey of the South Western part of the Western Route Project. The size of the diversion program and a brief description of China’s northwest after the transfer of the Indus’ water, are given. The main conclusion is that the diversion will help maintaining long-term stability in Xinjiang. The paper explains why and suggests deepening the research before an early implementation of the South Western section.
According to the ‘researchers’, the diversion of the Indus could bring ten benefits to China:
- It could increase the total amount of water resources in the Tarim Basin, which is located in the hinterland of Taklimakan Desert and suffers from important sand dune mobility. In this highly arid region, which receives low precipitations, water is extremely valuable
- The diversion could increase the local hydropower capacity. Water would flow from the high Qinghai-Tibet plateau, at an elevation of over 3,000 [in fact 4,000] meters and at the receiving end, water would be at only 1,500 meters above sea level.
- Once this section is completed, the water could create an oasis in the desert. The Western section would transform an entire region into an oasis; it would further bring a great return on the investment.
- Once the project is fully implemented, the total amount of water resources locally available could greatly increase; it could provide a substantial increase in the amount of hydroelectric power; the desert could become an oasis, it could improve the ecological environment, which in turn could promote local economic development of the region and the living standards of the local people.
- According to some scientific hypotheses, the water brought by the diversion could also increase precipitations in the region.
- The research says that the new oasis could in turn ‘curb global warming’ [sic]. If the global warming argument is indeed correct, say the ‘scientists’, the South Western section could increase the rainfall in China; this countermeasure could help curb global warming for the entire humanity; this is why the diversion project must be able to get the global support and backing of most countries [what about India?]. China can then get a substantial increase in the local precipitation; the desert in northwest [Xinjiang] would disappear; the desert would become an oasis which would be able to grow food and have power plants; humans would be able to reduce the need for fossil fuels; after additional diversion oasis would absorb large amounts of greenhouse gases each year, thus it would achieve the goal of curbing global warming.
- It could contribute to China’s food and energy security. After the diversion, the desert turned-oasis could increase the country's arable land for China to contribute to the world food security.
- The western development could make a significant contribution by reducing regional disparities. China's population distribution is unbalanced; the development gap between China and western regions and other regions is too large; it has been extremely detrimental to the country's development.
- The diversion could strengthen China's actual control of Aksai Chin, and help to resolve the territorial dispute. Sino-Indian border has not been formally delimited in the Aksai Chin and Pangong Lake areas; there are some territorial disputes [with India]. The water diversion project, through Aksai Chin, could help the actual control of this region; the implementation of the project could also help to resolve the territorial dispute [with India].
- Finally, the project could promote national unity and maintain long-term stability of Xinjiang. This, according to the authors, is the main benefit of the South Western section: the long-term stability of Xinjiang.
That may not make the pilot project so simple after all!
The question is, while Beijing is very quick to remove internet content which contests its rule, why is such a crazy and highly objectionable project allowed to be posted on a semi-governmental website?
Similarly, the website of the Yellow River Conservancy Commission of China’s Ministry of Water Resources has a 50-page report on the diversion of the Brahmaputra, and though Beijing denies any bad intention, the project remains on the ‘official’ website.
How can we trust China?
Some of my previous posts on the subject
Monday, August 7, 2017
|Indian POWs in Tibet with blaring loudspeaker|
Today China believes that it has mastered the Art and that it has demonstrated it in brainwashing many Indian journalists in the wake of the Doka La confrontation, near the trijunction between Tibet, Bhutan and Sikkim.
This may have been true during the first weeks in view of the of the paucity of information (and knowledge) from the Indian side.
Propaganda (or disinformation) has always taken an important place for the survival of a totalitarian regime. It continues today, whether it is with North Korea or China.
During the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict, the Indian POWs in Tibet were subject to the heavy Maoist propaganda machine. Unfortunately in most (not to say all) of the cases, it did not work.
Today, the Chinese are probably attempting to brainwash the Indian soldiers on the ridge on the heights of the trijunction in Bhutan.
If they do, they are again bound to face a failure once again…
The Indian jawans is just not brainwashable!
Here is the account of a young captain who was taken to Tibet as POW war in October 1962. He recalls his days in the camp in the Yarlung Valley.
Note that I had earlier posted another account of the Indian POWs in Tibet on this blog.
This event had a salutary effect on everyone for a day or two, as I learnt later. I was kept in a dark room with no light, but twice a day a sentry used to leave the food plate inside. Lt Thong visited me once every day and tried to persuade me to officially apologise for being an enemy of Chinese-Indian friendly relations and to connect my ways for future. He promised that as soon as I accepted my mistake, the rest of my punishment would be commuted. While it was quite depressing for the first two days I found that regular recitation of Japji Sahib [Sikh mantra recitation] , the only “Path” (Prayer) I know by heart helped me retain my spirit. By the third day I found myself walking inside that dingy room which was diagonally 7 ½ paces, practically throughout my waking hours, and made me much more determined than on the first two days. The plan to effect and escape from the PW camp was fortified in my mind over the next two to three days, while still in solitary confinement.
On the fifth day, Lt Thong and the Company Commander (Fatty) came to my cell at about mid-day and said that the camp Commandant had decided to take a lenient view of my crime, and in order to promote age-old friendly relations between the two peoples, has decided to release me unconditionally. It is only when I rejoined my other colleagues that I learnt of the counterproductive effect my punishment had on the men of my Para Troop, officers/JCOs and NCOs of our company. All of them expressed open resentment to the Chinese interpreters who used to visit them over the day for “friendly chat”. 2/Lt [Second Lieutenant] A, my Gun Position Officer, and 2/Lt B. of 2 Rajput were extremely vocal in telling all the JCOs and NCOs at meal times to display their unhappiness to the Chinese on their action. A. also told me that, you had also forcefully told the Chinese that it was a folly on their part to have tried to somehow tame me. I think Thong or Chou conceded to him that they did not realize that I would not break after one or two days and agree to apologise publicly. Had my prayers not given me the required strength, I could have crumbled and agreed to accept my mistake. Perhaps, they would then have repeated the drama effecting my release in front of everyone. It is due to the strong support from my seniors like you, my own colleagues and JCOs/men of our company and the OR of my Troop who were in another sub unit who made the Chinese rethink and release me unconditionally on the fifth day.
On returning to my colleagues, I took only two of them in confidence to join me in planning escape from the PW camp. While I did think of including 2/Lt D. as well but he was slightly handicapped due to his injury. Thus, it was only A., B. and self who went ahead and collected the Tibetan dresses and footwear from the locals in exchange for our cigarette rations. On the days when we were on water-duty for the Company Langar it was easy for us to contact the residents living in the village en route to the stream from where the water was collected. When I came to seek your blessings and approval in Feb 63, rations of Sampa [tsampa or barley flour] for one month or so plus apparel and footwear had already been mustered and one guide arranged. He was keen to flee Tibet and was the main service whom I had befriended for the execution of our plan. As I look back, I cannot help realizing that the success quotient of the plan conceived by us was very low. Your matured advice, based on far more experience, was invaluable in touring down our bubbling spirit to teach the Chinese a lesson. Within three weeks of my meeting you for the plan approval, the Chinese announcement of repatriation of PWs commencing was made. I think the date was 2 Mar 63. While the senior Officers left soon thereafter, ours was the last batch to be handed over on 25 May at Bumla. We left the camp on 22 May and reached the handing over venue on the third afternoon. Throughout our return journey by road all three of us were carefully analyzing the plan we had made. While we realized even then that our chances of getting across successfully were not high, passage of years and experience leaves, no room for doubt that we did not have even a 10% chance of success. It was only the daring spirit of youth which propelled us to seriously go-ahead with a plan with such a low probability of success...
Saturday, August 5, 2017
How can Xi speak of a 'Chinese Dream' and a 'Peaceful Rise' while threatening those who dare oppose China?
Here is the link...
“You shall be unswervingly loyal to the absolute leadership that the party has over the army, heed the call of the party, follow the party,” asserted Chairman Xi Jinping, while officiating during a mega parade at the Zhurihe Combined Tactics Training Base in Inner Mongolia on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
Images showed a martial Chinese President, also Chairman of the Central Military Commission, by far the most powerful organization in the Middle Kingdom, dressed in combat fatigues, driving in an open jeep and inspecting some 12,000 combat troops.
Xi told the PLA to be prepared for the battle and to defeat ‘all enemies that dare to offend’ China. Was India, who had dared to challenge the mighty PLA when Beijing tried to change the status-quo at the trijunction between Tibet, Bhutan and Sikkim, targeted?
According to The South China Morning Post, “Xi didn’t specify any target”, though the defence ministry spokesperson Ren Guoqiang stated that the parade was not targeted at China’s ‘surrounding situation’, it was in accordance with the yearly training schedule.”
Zhurihe is China’s largest and most advanced military base, sometimes compared to Fort Irwin National Training Centre in the US. It was the first time that such a military parade was held outside Tiananmen Square in Beijing, “it differed from previous events in its heavy emphasis on combat and field operations,” noted the Hong Kong newspaper.
It was indeed a huge display of military power; Xinhua reported that some 40 per cent of the weapons on show had never before been seen by the public.
Xi told the troops: “You shall extend the battleground to wherever the party points towards. …The world under heaven is not at peace, and peace needs safeguarding.” Xi added: “We are closer than at any time in history to realising China’s great dream of national revitalisation, and building a strong people’s army.”
There is a contradiction here, which might become a serious problem for Xi.
Can Xi speak of a ‘Chinese Dream’ and a ‘Peaceful Rise’ while threatening to go to war against those who dare to oppose China?
A war would undoubtedly take China 50 years back in its development.
The PLA in the meantime continues to take giant steps towards the future.
At the beginning of 2016, Beijing undertook in-depth reforms of its defence forces, aiming at a far wider 'integration'.
Apart from the traditional three 'services'; the PLA's Army, Navy and Air Force, the PLA has now a Rocket Force (formerly, the second artillery) and a Strategic Support Force (SSF) which could be a game changer.
It could be a critical organisation for dominance in the space, cyber, and electromagnetic domains. It is certainly the force to watch.
China is looking into the future
China's military modernisation will include capabilities to attack, at long ranges, adversary forces that might deploy or operate within the Western Pacific Ocean.
An array of weapons, for example different types of missiles, such as the new HQ-19 missile, to be specifically used for intercepting ballistic missiles in mid-course, are being developed. China is also working on an unmanned combat aerial vehicle named the 'Black Sword', which could one day compete with the best US drones.
But there are other aspects that one can’t ignore.
Not all is rosy in China today.
According to a blog on The People’s Daily website, on July 26 and 27, the days before Xi Jinping met the National Security Advisors of the BRICS, a seminar was held in Beijing; the purpose was to ‘unify the understanding among Party members’.
Chinascope, a website which publishes translations and analysis of the Chinese media, pointed out that the meeting was different from the ones held during the previous years: “First, the seminar location was changed from the Party School to the Jing Xi Hotel”. This hotel, closed to foreigners, is located near the Military Museum and Defense Ministry and is run by the PLA’s General Staff Department. Why was the location changed? Is Xi more ‘secured’ under the PLA wings?
It was also different due to the large participation of Party cadres; it included the seven members of the Political Standing Committee, provincial Party bosses, top leaders from central government, representatives of the People’s Congress, the judiciary and of course the PLA.
A telling detail: no paper and no pens were seen on the tables.
In his speech, Xi noted that he was ‘aware of the challenges’ and remarked: “the world is undergoing a dramatic change while China is facing serious challenges. …How do we deal with the complexity of the world and gain control on the international stage? How can we seize the opportunity and break through the conflicts and risks as China is entering a critical development stage? How can the party overcome the tests and risks and continue to be the leading party of the country? … These are the important questions that the party members are responsible for answering.”
During the next few days, the leadership will move to the cooler seaside resort of Behaide. It does not mean that the atmosphere will be less steamy.
The battle for the 19th Congress seems to have started.
The PLA is bound to play an important role in the power struggle at the top of the Party. We will have to wait a few months to witness in which direction the smoke goes. In the meantime, the PLA, 90 years after its Foundation, seems very much behind its Chairman.
The confrontation in Doka La should be seen in this perspective too.