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India may have awarded its first bullet train project to Japan but New Delhi should take a "sober" look at China when it c
The Chinese media today accused India of using the Dalai Lama card to deal with China's growing economic and political inf
China today warned India against allowing the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh, saying it would cause "serious damage
China has made a "mistake" of ignoring science and technology experts from India, Chinese official media said today, under
India has issued a demarche to China on its blocking of a US-backed proposal to ban Pathankot attack mastermind and JeM ch
China's newly-formed Rocket Force has held an exercise with advanced DF-16 medium-range ballistic missile with a range of
China today said differences over India's NSG membership bid and designating of JeM chief Masood Azhar as a terrorist by t
In the midst of growing unease in their ties, India today asked China to respect its territorial sovereignty and said its
In a rare dissent against official policy, a former Chinese diplomat who served in India has sought change in China's repe
Army chief General Bipin Rawat today said his force is prepared for a two-front war involving Pakistan and China simultane
Writing in the Hindustan Times, an alarmed Prem Shankar Jha says that given the Chinese sensitivities vis-a-vis India, "the immediate need is to persuade the Dalai Lama to postpone his visit to Tawang":
The resulting confrontation has now acquired a life of its own and is leading the two countries towards a war that neither wants. The calibrated escalation of China’s demands and actions suggests that the point of no return will be the Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang in November. Wen Jiabao’s request for a meeting with Manmohan Singh in Bangkok should, therefore, be seen as a last ditch effort to avert war...
Fortunately for India, reversing the escalation does not require making humiliating concessions. All that New Delhi needs to do is clear up the misapprehensions that have taken root in the Chinese leaders’ minds.
Read the full piece at the HT: It's a Dim Sum Game
Such suggestions seem to be of a piece with the recent “strategic reassurance” given by Barack obama to China by his refusal to meet the Dalai Lama during the latter's visit to Washington. While Obama may have been bestowed with a Nobel Peace Prize soon thereafter, Maureen Dowd in a recent column quoted Vaclav Havel to put it in perspective: “It is only a minor compromise. But exactly with these minor compromises start the big and dangerous ones, the real problems.” Gabbar Singh had put it pithily in Sholay, "jo Dar gayaa samjho mar gayaa".
C. Rajamohan in the Indian Express makes the very basic point that our China debate during last few weeks, instead of focusing on India’s own policy failures, was mostly about attributing hostile intentions to China -- be it modernisation of transport infrastructure along the border or Chinese advances in our neighbouring countries:
...We can call it Chinese ‘encirclement’ till we go blue in the face. The problem, however, is rooted in Delhi rather than Beijing. So long as India refuses to imagine and implement policies that make economic cooperation with India attractive to our neighbours, Chinese economic penetration of South Asia will continue unimpeded.
It is Delhi’s strategic lassitude that makes Beijing look like an evil genius.
....For all the talk about the China threat, there is little expertise in India about the world’s second largest economy that shares a 4000 km of land border with us and will soon be our maritime neighbour in the Indian Ocean. As China rises, India needs deeper and broader engagement with China.
Read the full piece: The Middle Path
First, on Sept 15, we had the "highly placed intelligence source, who is not authorized to give information to the media" in the TOI story -- 2 ITBP jawans injured in China border firing - First Breach Of 1996 Agreement -- that started the kerfuffle
Then, on Sep 20, we had "top sources in the Home Ministry" being quoted in the Hindu that "the Union Home Ministry has decided to file an FIR against the two Times of India reporters who filed a story claiming Indian soldiers had been injured in firing by the Chinese"
The next day, on Sep 21, same or different (we don't know, but we know they were not "top") "sources in the Home Ministry" showed up on the front page of the Indian Express to repeat that "an FIR against the two reporters was being contemplated"
By the same afternoon, "Home Ministry sources" (again, we don't know, whether they are the same or different) had shown up in PTI wires to say confidently that "Police will register FIR within a week against the scribes" for a ""wrong" report about Chinese firing at Indian border guards".
Now, today, Sept 23, they -- "Home Ministry sources" (again, we don't know who they are etc) -- are in PTI wires telling us that "the Centre has decided to drop action", that "the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) had sent a complaint to the Delhi police but top officials decided to "let it go""
And since the paper concerned has not retracted the story*, other than providing the ITBP version, are we to assume that:
On the other hand, if the story concerned was indeed "cooked up", it would be nice to learn what exactly was wrong:
And it would be only fair that at least some action be taken: demand for a retraction or a front page apology would be a fine start. If nothing else, perhaps some more "top" sources could be quoted to tell us what actually happened.
*ContentSutra has this to say about TOI's response: “We do not give comments on news items as a practice and I have nothing to say on this issue,” wrote Amit Rai, director, legal, at Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd, publisher of The Times of India, responding to an email asking for comment about the story that appeared in The Hindu. A spokesperson for BCCL did not respond to an email requesting comment.
V. Sudarshan in the New Indian Express:
...It has been made clear that the government will go after those who indulge in reporting on China in a manner that the government doesn’t want, an extraordinary thing to do considering that Vajpayee had cited China as the reason for the nuclear tests in 1998. And his defence minister George Fernandes had termed the country India’s “potential threat number 1”. Why is the UPA government developing a thin skin now on China? This irritability is the clearest indication why there is no progress in core issues with China even though our national security adviser keeps having numerous “good meetings” with his Chinese counterpart regularly in exotic places. It would be a good idea if they come clean on what really goes on at these meetings.
Read the full piece: Pied Piper of the PMO
Surely, the government would not call this hysteria.
All right, so New Delhi has spoken on, what it calls, the media's anti-China hysteria and told all concerned to cool it. No body would have any problems with that. But how does one react to a recent report* about the home ministry planning to file FIRs against two TOI reporters -- Nirmalya Banerjee & Prabin Kalita -- for their front page story of September 15, 2 ITBP jawans injured in China border firing - First Breach Of 1996 Agreement::
The firing in an area identified as Kerang in northern Sikkim took place a fortnight ago but has been kept under wraps. It was confirmed on Monday by a highly placed intelligence source, who is not authorized to give information to the media. ITBP officials at its headquarters in New Delhi declined to confirm the incident.
It was the first incident where bullets have been fired since the landmark 1996 Sino-India agreement in which both sides pledged not to open fire, no matter what the provocation, as a part of confidence-building measures.
Sources cite this as yet another instance of China maintaining pressure on the 2.1 sq km area of ‘Finger Tip’ in northern Sikkim. Last year, China had sent a vehicle patrol into this area, penetrating 1km into Indian territory. The Kerang shootout prompted an unscheduled border personnel meeting on August 30.
The Indo Tibetan Border Police had already lodged a complaint before the Delhi Police, denying the story. On September 16, the TOI itself carried a small report headlined ITBP clarifies:
Responding to a TOI report, ‘2 ITBP jawans injured in China border firing’, the ITBP had clarified that no such incident of firing has taken place on the India-China border and no member of the ITBP had been injured.
So what is the government's case? That the story was 'cooked up' and there was no ' highly placed intelligence source' as claimed by the September 15 report? Or is it that they want the journalists to reveal who their source was since they have very clearly mentioned it was a " highly placed intelligence source, who is not authorized to give information to the media"? Or is it just the usual sarkari way of scaring and subduing the media into self-censorship?
*Edited to add: The story first appeared in the Hindu on Sunday, September 20, bylined "New Delhi Bureau": Media asked not to ‘overplay’ China border incidents:
“We have taken this story very seriously. We are going ahead with our decision to take criminal action against the two reporters and we will soon file an FIR. They have quoted some highly placed intelligence source in their story. Let them appear before the court and tell who is this source who gave them information,” top sources in the Home Ministry said on Saturday.
Though they refused to say what crime the two reporters would be charged with, MHA officials said Indian law proscribed the promotion of enmity with other countries.
The story was on the front-page of the Indian Express on Monday, September 21, bylined "Express News Service": Govt plans FIR against journalists for ‘wrong’ report on China:
Even as everyone in the government, including PM Manmohan Singh, is trying to bring down the rhetoric on China, the Home Ministry, in a highly unusual move, is learnt to be planning action against two reporters of a national daily for what the ministry claims was a wrong report about Chinese firing from across the border.
Sources in the Home Ministry said the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), which guards the India- China border, had lodged an official complaint with the Delhi Police against the September 15 report that said that two ITBP jawans in northern Sikkim had been injured in firing by Chinese soldiers about a fortnight ago.
Sources said an FIR against the two reporters was being contemplated but they did not have any clarity on the charges that could be brought against the journalists. Delhi Police will take a decision on the charges, the sources said.