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This refers to Dateline Xinadu, your cover on the Sino-Indian border crisis (Aug 28). The entire fiasco at the frontier is simply the result of bad judgement and misunderstanding of the two formidable Asian powers. Ideally, the problem should have been solved by judicious bilateral discussions. But the turmoil of history has thwarted peace-making efforts at several levels. A new approach is necessary to study the origin of the crisis and the whole background has to be carefully analysed. Something that goes unnoticed in border disputes between many countries is the effort taken by earlier governments to find easy solution to the problem. It is the duty of the government to go through peace keeping efforts undertaken in the past and focus on what’s mutually beneficial for India and China, who are also major trade partners.
M.K. Somanatha Panicker, On E-Mail
India and China are losing focus. Although leaders from both countries regularly meet at major international platforms, they have failed to figure out ways of controlling the crisis at hand. In an already tense environment, the slightest of provocations are enough to collapse efforts undertaken at several points in time in the past. War is a medieval method of settling disputes and in the 21st century, we are only being naïve if we think that it can resolve anything. Given the frightening might that the armies of both these Asian superpowers have armed themselves with, there will be no end to war. And the complex mass of human and cultural diversity at the Sino-Indian border will be the worst victim. Let’s hope that both nations, irrespective of the issues at hand, are mature enough to resolve the conflict in an amicable manner without becoming a laughing stock in the world.
Sanjiv Gupta, Perth
Up till now, the Wagah border between India and Pakistan had been the site for caricatured aggression between soldiers done in an orchestrated manner, a spectacle created for the egos of jingoistic Indian and Pakistani citizens. Now, the Wagah exhibition has a new and more spontaneous competitor— Indian and Chinese troops literally playing tug of war with the border in the backdrop of breathtakingly beautiful places such as the Pangong lake in Ladakh. Given the amount of videos of ‘scuffles’ between troops of both countries circulating on new media, this animated aggression has sparked fears of war among people.
It is not hidden from anyone that China is an expansionist nation at the core. It has openly made claims over regions of Arunachal Pradesh and other areas of the Northeast. And it has little regard for the McMahon line.
But despite everything, if we have taken any lesson from a modern history of war in the globalised world, we should know better than to not raise fears of one. In my experience, political correspondents rarely have anything accurate to say about international events. They spend the good part of their time in predicting possibilities of this or that. They print news to create sensation and raise hell. In the present scenario, is war between India and China a near possibility? I don’t think so.
Seetharam Basaani, Hanamkonda
Let’s start with a fact check: China’s GDP is four-and-a-half times that of India and it has the largest military in the world. There’s little doubt that China is East Asia’s hegemon and also its new bully. In the context of its current relationships with India, this became amply clear when Wang Wenli, deputy director general of boundary and ocean affairs at the Chinese foreign ministry needled the visiting India delegation in Beijing by saying: “What if we enter Kashmir or Kalapani in Uttarakhand?” While the Chinese newspaper, the Global Times, and mandarins like Wang Wenli repeatedly indulged in sabre-rattling, India has been measured in its response to Beijing’s provocations, which is perhaps a good strategy. China is irked to no end by ‘Exercise Malabar’, by the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal and India’s boycott of China’s high-profile ‘Belt and Road Forum’. Under such circumstances India’s close proximity to the US and Japan is the right answer to China’s ‘engagement with containment’ policy. Just as China issued stapled visas to people of Arunachal Pradesh, so too should India issue stapled visa to Chinese of Tibetan origin. Be that as it may, the ongoing standoff over Doklam should be resolved only through dialogue.
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai
Under the Indo-Bhutan treaty Indian troops stopped the Chinese from constructing a road in Doklam which would pose a security threat to India. The state controlled Chinese media has been issuing warnings to India over the issue. Global Times even went as far as to remind India of 1962 and ‘warned’ of serious consequences if India doesn’t “withdraw” its troops from Doklam. However, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj made it clear that war was no solution and India would resolve the border standoff with China through dialogue. New Delhi has acted responsibly by its matured and restrained response. It is more than two months by now and India is holding to its position in Doklam firmly. In the meantime Japan’s categorical approval of India’s stand on Doklam must be a setback for Chinese intentions. Things have changed drastically since 1962 and so have global equations. Hopefully, in spite of all sorts of noises made by the Chinese media, Chinese government would not dare to replay 1962 in 2017. If it does, consequences of war would not be a one-way affair.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
Why does China want to increase hostilities with India? China is already the fourth largest country in the world. What does it need more land for—especially, if that land is coming at the cost of hostility with a very, if not equally, powerful neighbour? It is after posing all these questions that we realise that geopolitics is a game of deception. It is all about influence in the end rather than what it ostensibly shows to be after. Aggression at one front can bring about a victory at another unseen level. India is one of China’s biggest trade partner too. In this entire episode of animated teeth-show at the border, trade between the two countries has hardly been affected. And as for war, who needs it when the talk of war, that creates fear among people on both sides of the border, is far more profitable for politics.
Aditya Mookerjee, On E-Mail
I am of the opinion that the perceived ‘war’ will at best be confined to a war of words. Neither China nor India can afford to engage in a destructive war for a piece of land measuring just 180 meters. The stakes in terms of bilateral trade are unimaginably high and returns very lucrative for either of the long-time neighbours to allow their jingoistic emotions to overtake practical considerations. Also, India should not underestimate the military strength and war preparedness of PRC. The Indian political leadership should also be smart enough to deprive US President Donald Trump of using them as a shield for settling scores with China.
Shailendra Dasari, Ballary
China is working hand-in-glove with Pakistan in order to agitate India at all fronts. It also has an eye on Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. In the recent past, the Middle Kingdom has hinted at supporting Pakistan on the Kashmir issue as well. China’s attitude towards India has not changed since the 1962 war. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dynamic visit failed to make China respond positively to the issues at hand. Beijing can take the liberty to create problems for India and can have a win-win situation, forgetting that if India repays, it would be hell for the neigbouring countries that are creating troubles at the border.
Mahesh Kapasi, On E-Mail
The most flummoxing aspect of the Doklam crisis is China’s stance on India, and its recurrent references to how China is way ahead of India on many parameters. Nobody grudges China’s progress. Remarkably, in ancient times, India and China were mature nations which co-existed without animosity and there was a lot of cultural, material and academic exchange, to the benefit of both great civilisations. In recent decades, the shelter provided to the Dalai Lama was a cause of misunderstanding. China should remember that India has never rejected people who have sought refuge—like in the case of the Zoroastrian community. Again, instead of settling outstanding issues responsibly, China is willing to antagonise a nation of a billion-plus people in favour of a pathologically unstable neighbour. There is so much to gain if these two large nations can sit across the table and, in the spirit of our ancient traditions, thrash out all differences.
H.N. Ramakrishna, Bangalore
The present border crisis between India and China is created by the colonial British, who demarcated the border in a most haphazard and impractical manner. They tried to enforce the old Silk Route between India and Tibet, when China was not in the picture. Later, after occupying Tibet, China started probing farther and tried to extend their territory. The present stand-off at Doklam is the result of such a hegemonic act by China—the strategy of creeping acts of changing facts on the ground. The nuclear-powered neighbours should act with caution for the sake of their citizens.
Lt Col Ranjit Sinha (retd), Calcutta
Every crisis is an opportunity, and the current stand-off in Doklam is no different. China’s persistent efforts to nibble away at our borders have now given way to explicit threats. New Delhi’s refusal to be intimidated offers a promising opening for strategic steps that will promote long-term stability.
J. Akshay, Bangalore
Border conflicts in South Asia increasingly prove that geography was never sacrosanct.
Vijay S., Pune
This refers to The Idea and its Mutant (Aug 21) by Dilip Simeon. Communists once championed the cause of the labouring classes the world over, rose and fought against capitalism and the repressive measures of the powerful to cow down the middle and lower classes, and relentlessly battled for justice on the side of the victims. Over the years, communism lost its sheen due to gradual dilution slowly and the people devoted to it have almost lost the plot. In India, the Left parties once challenged the behemoth Congress in the early years of Independence, but are now fragmented. Idealism has lost its relevance and has mutated into ideology, driving the labouring classes away from the Left and diminishing their electoral prospects. While the Right worships the nation, the Left worships the party, and both do not imagine anything beyond the nation and the party, respectively. Killing people in the name of the cow and inciting communal violence by the Right and killing of innocents by the Maoists have emerged as the new incarnations of terrorism in our country. The leaders in the Right and the Left are solely responsible for the all this. When will they realise that human life is more precious than ideology or idealism?
M.Y. Shariff, Chennai
True, private hospitals are expensive for the poor and the middle class but then government hospitals are overcrowded and ill-equipped (No cure for Encephalo-apathy, Aug 28). This has been a perpetual dilemma in India’s healthcare sector. The country needs to have more government hospitals and better the existing ones for the welfare of its people at large.
Mahesh Kumar, New Delhi
Healthcare in India is suffering because of meagre allocation of money to the sector, which warrants major reform. The Gorakhpur incident of child deaths is an instance of appalling incompetence and criminal negligence on the part of the authorities. We need to work out in advance if such tragedies are not to be repeated. Urgent laws should be implemented regarding access to medicines. Oxygen supply should be made a priority task in hospitals.
Vinod C. Dixit, Ahmedabad
Dr R.N. Singh’s column as well as your editorial (I-Day Fever) mirror the sad state of the country’s government hospitals The Gorakhpur tragedy pops up several questions, basic as well as nuanced. Such pathetic governmental healthcare exists not just in the interior parts of India but even in our metros. Limited numbers of ventilators, beds, machines and doctor, where people are forced to turn inhuman and leave patients to die aren’t uncommon in a city like Mumbai. We talk about Swachh Bharat and look at the state of the civic bodies alone. Why not focus on the government hospitals too? They are full of filth and spreading diseases themselves.
Kamal Anil Kapadia, Mumbai
Ideology is only about “I have something to hold on to” (Idealism, Aug 21) . There is thus an innate seeking of self-identity in the pursuit of ideology. But no matter what we firmly hold on to—ideology, religious faith, or any other faith for that matter—it has to encourage our openness to other faiths or ideas, including the contrary ones, which may help change, temper or reinforce our ideas, so that our horizon of thought widens. It is unfortunate that in taking pride in religion and ideologies, there is no room for ‘healthy scepticism’. Bertrand Russell had said, “I would not die for my beliefs as I might be wrong.” At the opposite extreme is the ostrich-like attitude that results in ideological warfare and violence. The antidote is in what Jesus Christ said in The Sermon on the Mount: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” What an expansive and all-embracing thought that encompasses the ideals of non-violence, justice, equity, fair play and love, on which all of us would concur if we are at the receiving end.
A.R.M. Ramesh, Madurai
The present Delhi is entirely different from the one of 1947, sans all the good things Krishna Sobti mentions in her diary (August 21). The capital now has four distinct parts: Old Old Delhi, New Old Delhi, Old New Delhi and New New Delhi. With each passing day, it seems to descend a step closer to hell and damnation. The morning newspapers and TV channels bring us an avalanche of horrific crime stories and tragedies. I feel one can live happily in Delhi if only one has the guts to do so, along with an angel on one’s shoulder. The morning and evening hours on the roads are crazy with slow traffic; worse with crazier drivers. Well, as for us—my wife and I—we relocated ourselves to a place down-country. We live in Coonoor, Nilgiris, a British-built hill station, happily away by more than 2,000 km from the capital.
B.S. Bhatnagar, On E-Mail