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India-China equation-post Mamallapuram

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Xi Jinping and PM Modi

The most important takeaway from the informal summit between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping at Mamallapuram, formerly Mahabalipuram — the second since Wuhan that happened in April 2018 — is that the two biggest nations with a deep civilisational legacy could successfully explore the areas of detente and cooperation independently of the third party influences. The scale of welcome accorded to the Chinese President reflected the cultural content of Indian hospitality that would not go unnoticed in terms of the message of willingness to work for mutually beneficial relationship that it put out for the visiting dignitary.

What Wuhan had registered was an explicit sharing of this thought in spite of the Doklam episode and at the end of a year since, the notable outcome for India-China relations is that, notwithstanding the adverse impact of Sino-Pak alliance on them, the two countries can retrieve the positives that were still out there. In a nutshell, the two summits acknowledge that India and China were not ‘adversaries’ but two large economic powers open to a healthy competition in a multipolar world. The big picture is that China could no more afford to take India for granted, that international relations today primarily weighed in for peace and development and that ‘checks and balances’ were now recognised as a legitimate instrument for preventing ‘military’ conflicts in the post- Cold War era.

The demeanour of President Xi at the cultural reception organised for him suggested that he was preoccupied with the thought of dealing with what was substantive in India-China relationship for him, at a time when his country had challenges on multiple fronts. China needs time to build itself as the second super power through the economic route – even as it continues to simultaneously consolidate its military power to reach parity with the US in that sphere.

Speed breakers that the Trump Presidency has created for the unfettered advantage accruing to China in its trade with US in the past would lead President Xi Jinping to an effort to retrieve whatever trade benefit it could continue getting from the Indian market. A trade deficit of over $52 billion confronting India in relation to China should get Xi to realise that things would not be the same again and that a pragmatic approach to India-China trade relations alone could serve the interests of the two countries. Prime Minister Modi is adept at showing the pathway to shared progress to President Jinping in this area — he now knows Xi personally enough to make this process smooth. The outcome of the summit would be keenly awaited.

As far as the perennial issues around the LAC are concerned, Doklam tested India’s political will not to tolerate any border encroachment or alteration of the existing dividers. China has brought in PLA to directly oversee the LAC and India has responded by pushing the army closer to the borders with China but both sides seemed to be in favour of maintaining peace and promoting confidence building measures there. Sino-Pak military alliance is a regional leverage that China no doubt thinks it can invoke against India but it is apparently more about the CPEC opening up new ways for China’s economic expansion- including an outlet into the Arabian Sea.

On the issue of terrorism China knows it cannot uphold Pakistan beyond a point — its response on Kashmir after the abrogation by India of Articles 370 and 35A has essentially been to advocate bilateral talks on the issue between India and Pakistan — this is a low cost instrument for China to keep Pakistan humoured. China would have sensed that conversion of Ladakh into a Union Territory gave the Centre here a more direct control on this sensitive territory on the Chinese border. Moreover, the fear of radicalisation of its Muslim minority has come alive for the Chinese leadership – its historical memory of how in the Cold War era Pakistan helped the US-led West to encourage Islamic militancy in Xinjiang and Uzbekistan bordering Afghanistan would not have been completely erased.

The possibility of a synchronised mischief by China and Pakistan on our borders has been factored in by our Defence forces – even though such an eventuality still remains only in the background. India has activated its participation in QUAD but the focus of this US-Japan- India-Australia convergence is so far on maintenance of ‘rules based regime’ in the Indo-Pacific maritime zone. President Xi must have got the message that India would be willing to halt any designs of the Chinese in the Indian Ocean further up north through this steadily developing multi lateral — but as yet non-military — partnership. Since Wuhan, India’s Look East policy has strengthened our friendship with many countries in the East and this also works to India’s advantage.

The statements made by the two sides at this summit would be analysed by strategic experts but given the content and the unambiguous language of both, certain deductions can be made upfront. Surely, China has taken cognisance of the fact that in the Modi regime India is now a major voice in the world community on matters of global security and economic relations and that Prime Minister Modi would not be found wanting in responding to any positive overtures from Xi Jinping. India’s willingness to work for a ‘balance of power’ to ensure global peace has been in evidence in the recent period. All of this provided a backdrop to the Mamallapuram summit that favoured the pursuit of understanding and de-emphasised friction.

Prime Minister Modi declared that ‘Chennai Connect’ had opened a new chapter in India-China cooperation and President Xi Jinping on his part disclosed that in the multiple conversations he had had with the Indian leader, there was heart-to-heart exchange of views – like among friends – on ‘bilateral matters’. As expected trade relations were on top of the agenda – an indication of this coming from the announcement by India that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman would, along with the Chinese Vice Premier, lead the initiative to develop a mechanism for carrying trade, investment and services forward.

President Xi elaborated further on the tenor of discussions by saying that the two nations now enjoyed a ‘deeper strategic communication and effective practical cooperation’. It is clear that Xi Jinping did not get involved with Kashmir – one would like to believe that the Indian delegation, while broaching the subject of terrorism, succeeded in waking up the Chinese to the reality that this new faith-based global terror invoking Jehad, which was emanating from Pakistan, was dangerous for both India and China in the long run. In a nutshell, the second informal summit between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping is an advance over Wuhan and has established a bilateral grid that suits the security and economic strategy of India. There is no doubt that the Prime Minister will handle it well to India’s long-term advantage.

(The writer is a former Director Intelligence Bureau. The views expressed are personal)

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Air India employees receiving PF dues within 30-60 days

Once the management is satisfied that there are no dues pending from the employee, the Company Contribution is also released accordingly”, Air India said.

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Air India 777

New Delhi, Sep 19 : National carrier Air India has clarified that it had already deposited the TDS and the PF dues for superannuated employees which are being released within 30-60 days.

There have been reports that Air India has defaulted on the deposit of TDS and PF dues since January this year.

Responding to IANS queries, Air India said it has already deposited the TDS.

“Distribution of Form 16 is also under process”, it added.

On the PF dues of employees, the national carrier said they are receiving them within 30-60 days.

“All our employees, getting superannuated, are receiving PF dues generally within a period of 30-60 days. The Employees’ contribution is paid at the initial stages after retirement- usually within a period of 30 days.

The Company’s Contribution is disbursed usually within 60 days after superannuation, depending on clearance and NOC by various departments like Finance, Personnel, Security, Vigilance.

Once the management is satisfied that there are no dues pending from the employee, the Company Contribution is also released accordingly”, Air India said.

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Centre to buy aircraft worth Rs 250 cr for weather forecast

It is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Earth Sciences. Through this nodal agency, the people will get information about the weather.

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Preparing for Landing

New Delhi, Sep 19 : The government is planning to use more hi-tech methods for accurate weather forecast. Union Minister Harsh Vardhan said there is a plan to purchase an aircraft at a cost of Rs 250 crore, which will help in accurate weather prediction in different parts of the country.

The Ministry of Earth Sciences, Ministry of Aeronautics and Technology is planning to purchase this aircraft. The information was given by Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Dr. Harsh Vardhan in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on Friday.

On Friday, an MP in the Lok Sabha had asked whether the government is considering a proposal to buy a special aircraft for conducting experiments related to the weather forecast.

Answering this question, Harsh Vardhan said that his Ministry is considering purchasing a special research aircraft for atmospheric process studies in the country. Equipped with scientific equipment, the cost of this aircraft system can be Rs 250 crore.

Harsh Vardhan said the aircraft is likely to be used to solve various atmospheric research problems in weather, atmosphere in different parts of the country. This will help with meteorological cloud physics data.

The minister said that apart from this, it can also be helpful in the evaluation of air pollution assessment and studies related to health, need, climate environment and hydrology.

He said that Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) Pune will work as the nodal agency for this entire scheme.

It is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Earth Sciences. Through this nodal agency, the people will get information about the weather.

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Chinese imperialism poses incurable threat to the world

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Xi Jinping

New Delhi: Two viruses have taken over the world. One, a minuscule creature called Covid-19, has killed more than 8,00,000 people around the globe, but is slowing down and will most likely be eliminated in the coming months.

Vaccines have already been developed against it and once inoculated, citizens of the world can expect to go on with their normal lives. However, it is the second virus, that of Chinese imperialism, which poses a long term and a much more potent and incurable threat to the world at large.

China’s shadow looms large over the world. Not only geopolitically, but also in the economic and cultural realms, the Chinese are attempting to remake the world as per their conception of a master-serf relationship. Though in international relations, politics, economics and culture are interrelated, it is important to discuss them separately in order to bring out the nuances of Chinese imperialism.

The age of colonisation and imperialism ended for good in the wake of the breakup and reordering of the international order. This order was based on liberal principles of free trade, respect for international law, prevalence of democratic norms and a security architecture underlined by the presence of two superpowers. Intra and inter country disputes did happen but they were generally localised at best or limited to particular regions.

It is only with the entry of China on the world stage in force that global disruptions have started to manifest themselves brutally. The 2008 financial crisis decimated economies of the West and the East Asian Tigers but China emerged unscathed, riding on the success of its impervious wall which prevented (and still prevents) foreign investments unless approved by the Big Brother Xi. China by then had established mass manufacturing bases in major parts of the country and unimpeded by human rights or basic minimum wages, yoked its population to work tirelessly. The end result: China now mass produces everything from a needle to an airplane.

This has enabled it to dump its produce on other countries initially through the pretensions of free trade (now censored by the WTO) and later through the mega-ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). BRI has been used by China to weasel its way through national sovereignties like a hot knife through butter. Pakistan and Sri Lanka are best examples of what international observers euphemistically call “Debt Trap Diplomacy” but in reality is a gross usurpation of national authority.

China’s tentacles, unlike Covid-19’s, reach far and wide. In fact, Europe faces a double whammy of being repeatedly hit by the coronavirus and China almost simultaneously. With access to the Piraeus port of Greece, China has already started dumping products of all kinds in the European Common Market system. Italy’s untimely submission to Covid-19 was also made possible due to its proximity to the Chinese trading system. After all, Covid-19 and China have become synonymous with each other. In terms of politics, China has undertaken a multi-pronged attack across international borders of many countries.

India has been the first to bear the brunt of Chinese Janus-faced policies of illegal aggression on one hand, while calling for normalisation of trade and other relations on the other. However India is not the only one. The US faces a challenge of another kind. There is a real threat of China’s disinformation campaign affecting the outcome of the US elections in November.

China’s Thousand Talents Program has already ensured massive theft of data and exclusive technology from the US, the latest being Zhengdong Cheng of College Station, Texas who has been charged with making false statements and hiding his affiliations to the PLA. With Taiwan, China is playing the waiting game, pushing its ships and jets closer to the island nation with every passing week under the garb of exercises. Hong Kong for all matters has stopped existing as an autonomous region with only its nomenclature remaining unchanged.

China has also been active on the cultural front. The various China Study or Culture Centres opened in a number of countries act as both espionage and propaganda centres. There is a proactive effort to disseminate Xi Jinping Thought, a constricting ideology that aims to cement the Chinese President as the centre of China’s absurdist and all-encompassing universe.

The number of mushrooming Confucius Institutes all over the world teach everything but Confucian values. They are a front to propagate Chinese communist ideology under the facade of an educational institution and are now being investigated by a number of governments for their links to “The Party”. Chinese Students Associations have also been implicated in a number of countries to stifle criticism of Tibet and Xinjiang by expatriate Chinese students through use of violence and coercion.

Covid-19 is something that will ultimately have a cure. As it is, its lethality is very limited. However, the bigger virus of Chinese Communist Party keeps growing potent everyday and to counter it, the entire world needs to come together. The vaccination to get rid of the Chinese communist virus, though much more painful than the Covid-19 affliction, will have to be undertaken.

(Binay Kumar Singh is a columnist and researcher. Views expressed are personal)

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