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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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Aatmanirbhar Bharat: Tribal Affairs Ministry to ink 2 MoUs with KVIC

A Tribal Affairs Ministry source related to development said that the two MoUs will be signed later this week.

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Employment Generation programme

New Delhi, Jan 17 : Giving a major thrust to the government’s ambitious Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, the Tribal Affairs Ministry is all set to sign two MoUs with the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) for procurement of Khadi fabric for tribal students and for partnering with KVIC in implementing the flagship employment generation scheme – Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP).

The ministry will purchase over 6 lakh metres of Khadi fabric worth nearly Rs 15 crore for uniforms of tribal students studying in Eklavya residential schools across the country.

As part of the second MoU, National Scheduled Tribe Finance Development Corporation (NSTFDC), an agency of the Tribal Affairs Ministry, will be roped in as KVIC’s partner in implementing PMEGP scheme. NSTFDC is an agency that provides concessional loan schemes for economic development of tribals in India for funding entrepreneurial ventures of aspiring scheduled tribes in all sectors of the economy.

A Tribal Affairs Ministry source related to development said that the two MoUs will be signed later this week.

The MoUs are in line with the government’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan by creating local and self employment for Khadi artisans and the tribals. The huge purchase of Khadi fabric will create additional employment and income for artisans, a government official said. Similarly, roping in the Tribal Affairs Ministry with PMEGP will increase its ambit and also include more entrepreneurs from the ST community with local manufacturing.

Officials said the first MoU for purchase of Khadi fabric will be between NESTS and KVIC while the other one one will be between NSTFDC and KVIC.

The source said that the Tribal Affairs Ministry, which runs Eklavya residential schools where at present 75,000 students are studying, proposes to establish a total of 750 schools by 2022. He said that with 750 more schools, a total of 3.6 lakh students will be enrolled in these schools, which has been envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The source said that each school will have 480 students.

He further explained that the ministry has recently standardised school uniform design for the students in the schools with a distinct logo in partnership with National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) based in New Delhi.

The source said that keeping in view the focus of the government and the call of the Prime Minister to embrace Khadi as a philosophy and recently as a critical component of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat strategy, the Tribal Affairs Ministry felt it appropriate to source the fabric for uniforms of Eklavya residential schools from KVIC after several rounds of discussions.

He said that current requirement of around 6 lakh metres will increase in subsequent years as enrolment in the schools will go up.

“In order to take this forward, the Ministry through NESTS shall be entering into an MoU for procuring the fabric at an approximate cost of Rs 14.77 crore for 2020-21.”

The source further said that as two dresses are given each year and number of students will increase every year with establishment of new schools, this would be an annual affair and procurement is likely to multiply every year and expected to be of Rs 50 crore by 2022.

He also said that it would not only give quality dress material to the students but also give employment to thousand of artisans and workers across the country.

The source said that based on the success of school uniform initiative, other requirements of schools like bedding, towels, ‘dari’, and others can also be procured from KVIC in future.

“Therefore the proposed MoU between NSTFDC and KVIC will formalise this arrangement and will be a landmark initiative to bring synergy between NSTFDC and KVIC in reaching out to tribal entrepreneurs under the larger ambit of PMEGP scheme,” the source added.

The source further said that the MoU will be signed in presence of Union ministers Nitin Gadkari and Arjun Munda.

(Anand Singh can be contacted at [email protected])

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Horror of Jan 1990 continues to haunt migrant Kashmiri Pandits

For a common Kashmiri, both Muslim and Hindu, world has never been the same after January 1990.

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Jammu, Jan 17 : The world for 70-year-old Autar Krishan Raina has never been the same place, not after he left his home in Srinagar in the aftermath of that horrifying night in January 1990.

“I never believed that old wounds could hurt so hard. I have often been jolted out of sleep as if those frightening slogans are still going on outside my home.

“We lived peacefully among our Muslim neighbours in Aaali Kadal area of downtown Srinagar. I had grown up alongside my best friend, Afzal, who would sit beside my mother like her second son.

“My mother loved Afzal like she would have if I had a blood brother,” Raina recalls the good old days walking down the memory lane to identify his home in Aali Kadal which today is a half-fallen ruin.

He now lives in Jammu city where his son and daughter grew up.

The daughter is a doctor while his son is working in Mumbai as a software engineer. Raina lost his wife two years after the family migrated with hundreds of other Kashmiri Pandits to take shelter away from home.

“My tragedy is that I did not only lose my home and friends. I have lost faith in the goodness of humankind,” he recalled with moist eyes requesting not to be pushed to relive the horror he has been through.

The exodus of Kashmiri Pandits has haunted both local Hindus and Muslims. For centuries, the two communities had co-existed with intertwined destinies. Eid and Maha Shivratri had been common festivals.

The shrine of Sheikh Humza Makhdoom atop the Hari Parbat hillock in old Srinagar city has wonderfully blend with the neighbouring temple of Sharika Devi.

Muslims and local Pandits have paid obeisance at these two places of faith to pray for brotherhood, love and mutual respect. Their societal interests have been common. Imagining life without each other was impossible till 1990.

All that was shattered and lost during the January of 1990. Slogans of ‘Azadi’ (Freedom) had achieved just one objective, Kashmiri Pandits lost their home and hearth while the local Muslims lost their innocence.

For a common Kashmiri, both Muslim and Hindu, world has never been the same after January 1990.

Local Muslims have suffered immensely at the hands of those who hated their lofty traditions and the ideals of religious tolerance. Local Hindus have become refugees in their own country.

“We lost our homeland. Living as refugees in your own country is perhaps a tragedy only the Kashmiri Pandit has suffered. The future of my children is safe, but they have lost their roots,” Raina ends his story as he closes the door of his house away from home.

Will Kashmir ever be the same as it was before January 1990? Might be it will, but the wounds in the hearts and minds of those who suffered the horror of those days and nights will continue to fester because some wounds are never fully healed.

(Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at [email protected])

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Congress’s women wing to observe ‘Mahila Kisan Diwas’ on Monday

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi and former party chief Rahul Gandhi joined the protest march here on Friday to show solidarity with the protesting farmers.

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Mahila Kisan Diwas

The women wing of the Congress has decided to observe “Mahila Kisan Diwas” (Women Farmers’ Day) on Monday, to show solidarity with the thousands of farmers’ protesting against the three controversial farm laws.

All India Mahila Congress president Sushmita Dev said: “The All India Mahila Congress which has been at the forefront of the fight for women’s rights wholeheartedly welcomes this and will support this call to observe Mahila Kisan Diwas.”

The Congress’ women wing said that the farmers have played a critical role in the fight for justice and have shown the country the importance of women in agriculture and in revolution.

They have not only left their homes to protest against the farm laws, but also worked to ensure more awareness amongst people on how these legislations will destroy their livelihood.

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi and former party chief Rahul Gandhi joined the protest march here on Friday to show solidarity with the protesting farmers.

Speaking on the occasion, Rahul Gandhi said: “Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not respect the farmers… the party is in farmerss support till these laws are withdrawn.”

Slamming the BJP, the Congress leader said the government is working for businessmen and these laws are not in favour of the farmers.

The Congress on Friday staged protests at all Raj Bhavans (Governor’s House) across the country and demanded the withdrawal of the farm laws.

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