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Modi’s faulty China policy has cost India dearly

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement that no intrusion has taken place along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Galwan Valley Ladakh has raised several questions but it gave an impression that the government is trying to appease China and confirmed that it will hide every detail of the Violent Face-Off that occurred between the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Indian Army on June 15.

The situation in the Ladakh’s Galwan Valley is very fluid as the violent clash between two Asian giants took place after several decades that claimed the life of at least 20 Indian soldiers while China has not revealed its causalities.

Modi specifically said no foreign soldiers had crossed India’s borders and no territory had been lost and nor is any of Indian post captured. Modi’s statement benefitted China who took an opportunity to accuse Indian troops of making a “deliberate provocation” at the disputed India-China border and also claimed entire Galwan Valley, saying it is on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

China responded that the troops had crossed into Chinese territory and attacked, triggering “fierce physical conflicts”.

Modi’s statement has added another dimension to the India-China border dispute  and the entire Galwan Valley issue. Whether Modi made this statement to avoid criticism at home or sheer ignorance about the Line of Actual Control or in a way was sending out a clear signal that his country is not in favour of any further escalation as Indian defence capabilities are in nowhere in comparison to Chinese.

But the violent clash at the Indo-China border points to Modi’s failed diplomacy, foreign policy and now BJP led NDA government is currently facing a serious crisis as which used to boast of its toughness in matters of national security, has failed to do so.

India declared that 20 soldiers including Colonel, the commanding officer have been killed when both the militaries entered into a physical confrontation involving rocks, barbed wire and fists without a single shot being fired.

The 42 days long standoff at the Galwan Valley situated along the western sector of the LAC and  close to Aksai China, a disputed area between India and China, turned tense when Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated  a strategic road through the Galwan Valley along the LAC in Ladakh where Beijing has been more assertive in building strategic infrastructure around the LAC. New road built by India along the Shyok River to Daulet Beg Oldi (DBO), the most remote and vulnerable area along the LAC in Ladakh irked the Beijing.

India also completed  the construction of a strategically important bridge on the Shyok river in Eastern Ladakh area, close to Shyok-Galwan rivers’ meeting point, the bridge is not on the track moving to Patrolling Point 14.

But the faceoff is not just at the Galwan Valley, Chinese and Indian Armies are also posturing at the Hot Springs and Pangong lake to the south. There are reports that the Chinese are sitting eight kms to the west of LAC passing through Finger 8 at Pangong Tso, have made bunkers and posts.

Indian government, diplomats and military were caught in a surprise when they witnessed massive build up by Chinese PLA in the region in May in the form of tanks, artillery rocket and armored units, trenches were made  along with around 10000 PLA troops presence. PLA built up their tents at Finger 4, which India considers as its own territory and has cut off access to the area till Finger 8, until which soldiers carried out foot patrols in the past.

India, then, has been maintaining that talks were taking place on the diplomatic and military level to diffuse the tensions and reportedly mentioned that both the militaries have been agreed for disengagement.

Later government officials have shared details about thinning of  troops at Patrol Points 14, 15 and 17 at Galwan and Gogra. The situation was serious since the beginning  as several round of talks were held and for the first time in history a major general level meeting also took place in eastern Ladakh between the two sides, which was followed by a several round of talks  between brigadier and colonel-level officers to chalk out a disengagement plan.

The Finger Area along the Pangong Tso lake still remains a major cause for concern as the PLA has constructed trenches at Finger 4 (which India considers its own) cutting  off an over 50 Square Kilometers area till Finger 8 that Indian troops used to patrol in the past. And if PLA troops happen to make further incursions, the safety of the critical Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie road will be at risk.

India has been dealing with China differently as compared to Pakistan, as  multiple incursions by Chinese PLA troops in the Indian territory are regarded as the different perception about the LAC.

This is the first time in the last 45 years that Indian or Chinese troops have been killed on the LAC. In 1975, an Indian patrol was ambushed by the Chinese in Arunachal Pradesh. In 1967, a violent showdown in Nathu La in Sikkim in which 88 Indian soldiers and over 300 Chinese soldiers were killed.

There is also a similar tense situation eyeball-to-eyeball in Nathu La, on the border between China and the north-eastern Indian state of Sikkim. Prime Minister Modi, who met Xi Jinping  18 times and Chinese president was the first state guest when he became the Prime Minister of India in 2014, reflects that Modi tried to appease the dragon but failed miserably.

Union Minister Amit Shah specifically made it clear in August 2019 in Parliament that when he mentions Jammu and Kashmir it includes Ladakh, Aksai Chin and Pakistan occupied Kashmir as these areas are integral part of the country. People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops, since then had been conducting incursions and regular combat exercises near the Indian border. But Indian government failed to analyze it and so as the intelligence agencies.

China raised the issue at international forums including the UN Security Council. Since then, Beijing has been making incursions and even reportedly secured around close to 3-4 kms in Galwan River area but no military or government official have confirmed.

China under Xi Jinping has been aggressively pursuing its ambitions of becoming a world power and India’s decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and revoke the autonomy of Jammu an Kashmir and bifurcated the erstwhile state into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh has irked Beijing. China has made inroads in Nepal and Bangladesh  and the ongoing US-China trade war has turned beneficial for Beijing. While India has been making deals with neighbouring countries on paper while going slow on the ground.

Modi lacks the knowledge of China’s polity and vision which believes in policies set by Mao Zedong an working on it steadily and aggressively after it declared Wall in the Sky in 2009 and implemented Air Defense Identification Zone in East China Sea in 2013 and South China Sea. But on the contrary, Modi government has been accusing Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India and the Gandhi family of Congress for NDA government’s failures and lost engaged in dividing the society to remain in power and provoking Pakistan on television debates and then boasting of conducting surgical strikes in Pakistan while disregarding the fact that India needs a different policy and strategy to deal with the dragon.

By Arti Bali

Sr Journalist (International Affairs)

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India at Afghan crossroads as Taliban cocks its guns

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India Army on Desert

New Delhi, July 3 : With Chinese bellicosity reverberating across the world, South Asia is bracing for another jolt — the epicentre of which is neighbouring Afghanistan. The tremors from Kabul will pass through Islamabad and hit Delhi, yet their intensity is not known. To what extent is India prepared is a question mark.

It all began on February 29, when the US signed a deal with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, to withdraw its forces from the war-torn country after almost 19 long years. Strangely it chose to leave out the elected Afghan government from a deal that impacts the future of Afghans.

The peace deal between the US and Taliban, remains a misnomer. Contrary to the spirit of the deal, the Taliban has increased attacks and the violence has engulfed the landlocked country – right from the maternity ward of a hospital in Kabul, to a gurdwara in prayers; from a funeral site in Nangarhar to a court in Paktia. And, not to mention dozens of Afghan security check-points where many hundreds of security personnel have died.

On its part, the Afghan government is implementing various provisions of the deal, like the release of Taliban prisoners, and President Ashraf Ghani has committed to join the intra-Afghan talks in Doha.

Doha is where the Taliban maintains its political office, and where the US-Taliban deal had been negotiated this February. The US Special Representative for Peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad has been chasing diverse parties including Pakistan for the intra-Afghan talks, reducing violence and release of prisoners. In his recent talks with Afghan leaders, Khalilzad reinforced that peace in Afghanistan is equivalent to peace in the region and the US is ready to invest in this sphere.

However, going by the high levels of violence inflicted by the Taliban the future looks bleak for the nation. It is not difficult to understand why the Taliban has stepped up its deadly attacks across the country – it is looking forward to an American withdrawal to enable a complete takeover of the country. The World Human Rights Watch Report has said that the Taliban”s widespread human rights abuses in areas under its control raise concerns about its willingness to adhere to future agreements.

Besides the two key nations — the US and Afghanistan, there always has been a high-stakes player — Pakistan, with its behind-the-scenes shelter and support to terror groups. In its efforts to control a resource-rich but unstable neighbour, it has played a pivotal role in keeping Afghanistan on the tenterhooks and vulnerable to attacks through battle-hardened terror groups. It has also put in considerable efforts to keep India at bay.

Indian intervention in Afghanistan has been diametrically opposite Pakistan”s — it has pumped in $2 billion aid and assistance for the Afghan people to rebuild the war-ravaged country and promote democracy. India has built dams, power stations, roads, hospitals and trained Afghan people in various aspects of administration and security.

With unprecedented developments happening in Afghanistan, many including Khalilzad are urging India to talk to Taliban. This is a view which even Zamir Kabulov, Russia”s special presidential envoy for Afghanistan, holds. The million dollar question is — how does India view the Taliban, which India has kept at an arm”s length for close to two decades now.

India still looks at Afghanistan as a democratic country that elects a people”s government, while the Taliban is still viewed as a terror group, power hungry and a Pakistani stooge. Indian thinking is still governed by the good old-fashioned theory of an ideal Afghanistan where all tribes come together to hold elections, where terror groups drop their arms and the Afghans climb up the development charts with roads, dams, schools and hospitals with Indian support.

With unbelievable violence engulfing Afghanistan, this looks like an impossible reality. An Indian pipe dream. But what is still possible amidst these impossibilities is that India opens up a window to talk with the Taliban.

The Taliban has made reconciliatory gestures towards India which have been surprising. It has already said that the revocation of Article 370 in Kashmir was an internal matter of India. And, it has said a couple of times that it is open to talks with India. In fact, even the Afghan government has indicated that India should join the intra-Afghan talks as the country has always been supportive of peace in Afghanistan. It wants India to drop its opposition to the Taliban and lend strength to the peace process.

While calls for India”s role in the peace process echo from all sides, the only opposition has come from arch enemy Pakistan, which is still busy playing its ”running with the hare and hunting with the hounds” game. Even as it poses with the US as an ally in the Afghan peace process, it has been sheltering and training various terror groups in attacking both Afghan and Indian interests.

However, the good news for India is that the terror groups are mutating in the Afghan battlefield. While the Taliban is warming up to India, the formidable terror group, Haqqani Network, shares Pakistan”s line of thinking.

The fast-paced developments in Afghanistan have left the field wide open for India to drop its nonchalance and join the talks, paving the way for a bigger Indian role once the US completely withdraws from the region. As the various players in the Afghanistan theatre know, India”s stand at the talks will only be from a point of peace and from a perspective of the Afghan people.

We know that there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies in international relations. People evolve, entities change but peace still remains a goal worth pursuing. India has pursued that goal for millions of Afghan people for long. It should not give up now.

By : Rahul Kumar

(This content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

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Saroj Khan will live in history of choreography for Indian cinema: Subhash Ghai

She was an integral part of our Mukta Arts family-She was my strong partner in grooming stars like Madhuri Meenakshi, Manisha and Aishwarya. Master of masters.

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Saroj Khan Death

Mumbai, July 3 : Filmmaker Subhash Ghai has described prolific choreographer Saroj Khans death as a “personal loss”, and said that she will forever live in the history of choreography in Indian cinema.

Almost all the biggest films in Ghai”s career had Saroj Khan calling the shots for some of the biggest dance hits in his films. These include “Hero” (1983), “Karma” (1986), “Ram Lakhan” (1989), “Khalnayak” (1993), “Pardes” (1997), “Taal” (1999), “Yaadein” (2001) and “Kisna” (2005).

On Friday, Ghai shared an emotional video talking about Saroj Khan, who passed away after a cardiac arrest in the early hours at the age of 71.

“Saroj Khan. My biggest personal loss. An integral part of my journey in cinema — Sarojji. Keeping alive classical dance in Hindi cinema was Saroj Khan. Change has come and change will come, but Saroj Khan will not. We all have become masters by becoming her students. Cinema will always remember her. What do I say, I have no words. I am saddened,” he said in the video.

Alongside the video he also shared a message, where he said that she was a strong partner in grooming stars like Meenakshi Sheshadri, Madhuri Dixit, Manisha Koirala and Aishwarya Rai.

Meenakshi Sheshadri became an overnight star after “Hero”, Ghai”s musical blockbuster of 1983. Madhuri worked in the Ghai hits “Ram Lakhan” and “Khalnayak”, both of which had superhit dances choreographed by Saroj Khan. Manisha Koirala made her debut in Ghai’s 1991 hit “Saudagar”, which had several hit song-and-dance sequences, while Aishwarya Rai’s dances in “Taal” continue to be a rage to this day.

“An era has gone. Absolutely my personal loss. She was an integral part of our Mukta Arts family-She was my strong partner in grooming stars like Madhuri Meenakshi, Manisha and Aishwarya. Master of masters. Saroj Khan will live in the history of choreography for Indian cinema indeed. Bye Jaan. RIP,” said Ghai.

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No Chinese goods in food ministry now: Ram Vilas Paswan

After the incident, there is a wave of anger all over the country against China and people are boycotting Chinese goods.

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Ram Vilas Paswan

New Delhi, July 1 : Union Minister for Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan has said that his ministry has closed the door for Chinese products. Paswan said that no Chinese goods will come to his department anymore and a circular to this effect has already been issued.

In an exclusive interview with IANS, Paswan said that from now on foreign products will also be tested as per the standard set by the Bureau of Indian Standards.

After this decision, the purchase of goods directly by his Ministry and the departments and organizations under his Ministry will not include products from China.

The Food Corporation of India and the Central Warehousing Corporation also come under the Union Food and Public Distribution Ministry.

The circular issued by the ministry on June 23 stated that no goods manufactured in China would be purchased from the Government e Marketplace (GeM) portal or any other source.

This decision comes after the incident in Galwan Valley in Ladakh in which 20 Indian soldiers, including an officer, were killed in a clash with Chinese troops last month.

After the incident, there is a wave of anger all over the country against China and people are boycotting Chinese goods.

Paswan said “Rules are being framed to check foreign goods standards. These rules will apply not only to Chinese products but also to products coming from other countries.”

He said the way Indian goods are tested on foreign standards in the same way, foreign goods will be tested in India. “We will stop foreign goods if our standards are not met,” Paswan said.

Paswan has been active in delivering foodgrains to every nook and corner of the country by implementing the free grain distribution scheme – Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) during the corona crisis. So far, 1,03,53,715 tonnes of foodgrains have been distributed, which is 87 per cent of the total quota for three months.

The scheme has been extended till November. Expressing happiness, Paswan said this will provide great relief to more than 80 crore poor people of the country in this hour of crisis.

Paswan said there is enough stock of foodgrains in the country. He urged the states to lift the grains for the months ahead to ensure smooth distribution under PMGKAY.

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