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Friday, 11 September 2009

From Today's Papers - 11 Sep 09

Indian Express

Telegraph India

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Asian Age

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Mint

Times of India

DNA India

DNA India

DNA India


DNA India

DNA India

DNA India

Hindustan Times

Media and the Martyr

Not being able to decide what is a bigger crime – reiterating an oft repeated point, or keeping quiet about something you feel very strongly about, I decided to choose the former. Absolute apathy of the public at large and a large section of the media in particular towards yet another gallant soldier being martyred is nothing new. So the manner in which news of Maj Akash Singh laying down his life trying to stop militants transgressing across the LoC has been treated by most of the newspapers today is not surprising.

  • The Times of India has relegated the news on Page 10. Prominent articles on page 1 include statistics about working women outnumbering men in America, and feminist twist to Ramlila this year. The paper probably considers these issues being more important and newsworthy. Incidentally, a report on a clash between some army officers and medical students in Indore finds a higher billing on page 9, with the column space being equal to that of the news about Maj Aksah.
  • The Indian Express mentions it briefly in ‘Quick Takes’ on page 1, and then disposes off with the rest of the story in 2 columns on page 8. Some of the stories meriting more importance include Mr Sashi Tharoor’s Iftaar party and actress Kunika Lal meeting Congress leaders in Maharashtra appearing on page 4, and transfer of IPS officers in UP on page 5.
  • Hindustan Times covers the martyrdom on page 13. Stories on page 1 include a PIL filed by an elderly couple asking for liquor being served 24X7. Other prominent stories receiving more attention include waste disposal schemes in Delhi and ragging of college students in Ghaziabad.
  • The Asian Age mentions it briefly in ‘Windows’ on page 1, below the news of a car stereo being stolen from the house of an aide of Mrs Sonia Gandhi. The detailed story about the lucky stereo of the unlucky aide is in three columns on page 2, while the martyr gets two on page 5. An ongoing turf war between the civilian and military members of Gymkhana Club Delhi finds a prominent place on page 1.
  • The Telegraph has published two photographs with captions on page 4, with no write up.
  • DNA has published a one column report on page 9, tucked between news about Child Commission moving to SC on gay sex, and a case in UP against a TV channel.
  • Mail Today takes the cake. It has the story tucked away inconspicuously on page 13, sharing equal space with the 24X7 liquor PIL, while full page spreads on pages 3, 7 and 9 are about wardrobe choices of Freida Pinto, lip job of Kangana Ranaut, and the dagger collection of Angelina Joley.

Couple of things are quite clear. The departed soul is beyond these worldly concerns, nor could the bereaved family be consoled or aggrieved by the press coverage at this juncture. On their part, I am sure that the editorial staff of none of the newspapers mentioned are lacking either in patriotic spirit or in respect for martyrs, and the same goes for majority of our population. So the issue here is not about the deliberate slighting of a hero – it is of apathy, of the expediency business as usual.

It is not unusual for army officers and jawans to lay down their lives in the line of duty - and that does not make very ‘newsworthy’ news. The public would much rather read about sexy starlets, and the newspapers prefer to write about them. “While I do revere those dying so that I can continue to get up in the morning and read my newspapers day after day, I would much rather read more titillating stuff in that newspaper than about their exploits.” Figures - in a country that, after 62 years of independence, does not have a national memorial to commemorate those who have died defending it, and has to pay obeisance at the one built for wars fought in distant lands by its colonial masters.

So who are they dying for? And why? They’re not personally threatened by the terrorist or militant any more than you are as long as they do not volunteer to join the army and go after him. They’re not doing it for the money, for Sixth Pay Commission notwithstanding the pay is still not worth dying for. They’re not even doing it for the glory, for at the end of the day no medal is worth it if your widow has to go and receive it from the president. Nor is any amount of coverage in the media at that cost. The reason remains one of those imponderables that keeps the likes of Maj Akash Singh steadfast on the path of their duty even in the face of gravest peril.

On our parts we, as the direct beneficiaries of the sacrifices made by such brave souls, could be a little more aware, a little more sensitive towards them. While it would not make much difference to the martyrs per se, it would definitely make us better people and a better nation.

http://sword.hostrator.com/sword/?p=48

Strategic ministries feign ignorance about plane release
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 10
India’s two strategic ministries, the Defence and the Home, have been pushed into silence over the “diplomatic” release of a planeload of arms, missiles, ammunition and explosives, which a UAE military aircraft was ferrying to China. The plane flew off from Kolkata this morning.

It was not allowed to fly over Indian land fearing a “Purulia arms drop” kind of situation in the northeast. Rather it flew over the Bay of Bengal as it was carrying explosives, confirmed a source. The plane, a C-130 Hercules transporter, had been detained on Sunday night at Kolkata where it had landed for re-fuelling.

Senior officials in both ministries are tightlipped over the developments and are feigning ignorance about the incident. Sources confirmed that clutch of security agencies handled by these two ministries were clearly “unhappy” and were under immense pressure to keep quiet. The “diplomatic” channels of a “friendly” country were working overtime to let-off the plane which surely was in the “suspicious” category, said a source.

Strangely, officials of both ministries today denied having any knowledge about the nature of cargo on board the plane. This is despite the fact that sleuths of the Intelligence bureau had boarded the plane and interrogated the nine-member crew. The military liaison unit at the Kolkata airport also inspected the cargo. Besides this a team of the customs department that comes under the finance ministry also inspected the cargo.

The pilot has reportedly told investigators that he was a mere “courier” and would often fly weapons to China for “testing”, sources said while pointed out that the plane was released even as several questions remained unanswered. Crucially, the origin of the cargo and its destination were doubtful. Was it a covert operation of some other country’s agency that was exposed accidentally by Indian agencies?

Suspicion is that part of the weapons could be US-made sophisticated weapons and were being procured by China for “reverse engineering”. This is a process by which China even engineered, rather “copied” Russian fighter aircraft a few years ago. Some of this could be the very latest in weaponry and could alter the regional balance and may spell trouble form India.

It is still not clear as to why did the plane not reveal its cargo or its point of destination (the city) in China. Two days ago, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna had accepted the plea of the UAE government that it was a “technical error”. It was only on landing here that the pilot declared his cargo.

The plane was carrying rifles, explosives and combat missiles. It has carrying capacity of more than 85 tonnes and was packed to the top, said a source. The plane cargo hold was not secured and sealed as is required under Indian law for aircraft carrying such cargo.

Agencies also believe that the cargo may not have been loaded in the UAE and the needle of suspicion is pointing to another country. It is not sure if the plane flew in to Kolkata directly from the UAE or had a halt en route.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090911/main3.htm

MiG-21 crash kills pilot
Rajay Deep/Ravi Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Bhalaiana (Muktsar), September 10
MiG-21 fighter jet of the IAF crashed at this village in Muktsar district at 2 pm today. Pilot, Flight Lieutenant Manu Akhouri (22), hailing from Jharkhand, died on the spot.

The fighter jet C-1641, took off on routine sortie from Air Force station, Bhisiana in Bathinda district in the afternoon. After a few minutes of flying, it caught fire and came close to ground.

After circling twice over the village, it veered towards Muktsar and crashed with blast on the Bathinda-Muktsar main road, 500 metres from the village. The crash left six-foot deep pit at the site, which is 100 metres from a petrol station. Gurtej Singh, who works at Sunder Filling Station, said: “I saw burning jet hovering over my head and a blast took place in the air, before it crashed”.

Farmers working in nearby fields at the time of the crash said the fighter jet was in flames before it crashed. The pilot apparently to save the populated areas manoeuvred the plane towards fields for crash landing. When the jet came close to the ground, a bus was plying on the road. Apparently to avert an accident with the vehicle, the jet hit a tree and was blown to pieces.

The farmers witnessed the pilot ejecting with his seat with rapid pressure. However,he had succumbed to his injuries. The parachute of the pilot was lying beside the body.

Thana Singh, a farmer, said: “The fighter jet came down once but again started going upwards. After a few seconds it again came down and crashed”. Officers of Bathinda and Muktsar administrations and the IAF reached the spot.

Helicopters, ambulances and fire tenders reached the spot in a few minutes of the crash. The whole area was cordoned off and the IAF authorities launched probe.

Collecting scattered pieces of the plane had started, but the road could not be cleared till the filing of the report. Meanwhile, body of the pilot was taken for post-mortem examination.

Though IAF officials avoided meeting the media, Deputy Commissioner, Muktsar, Rajat Aggarwal said: “As per the IAF authorities, Manu was regular pilot. He took off from Bhisiana station and after routine sortie he had to fly back”.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090911/main7.htm

China plans to dominate India?

Nitin Gokhale, Thursday September 10, 2009, New Delhi

Chinese helicopters, troops and rock markings were recently found on the Indian territory bordering China. So, just what is China up to?

Though India describes them as minor incursions, but it's worried about the design and the grand plan of the Chinese behind these.

The aggressive patrolling, assertive transgressions and vituperative articles in state media aimed against India, is all part of the larger design to keep India off balance.

And China is doing that currently through a large military exercise named Stride 2009. The military exercise involves 50,000 troops, tanks and aircraft.

Beijing's intention is to practice moving divisions to the Indian border quickly, across thousands of kilometres from this far corner of China.

A Chinese general bluntly says, "The unprecedented exercise is to improve long-range projection."

In the last coupe of decades the character of the Chinese leadership has changed. After China's emergence as an economic superpower it's aiming to be a military superpower.

So gone is the maxim "Hide your capability, bide your time" and adopting an openly aggressive stand is the new mantra.

Three years ago, Chinese military laid down its goals and made them public:

* By 2010: Target and coerce regional powers like Taiwan, Vietnam and India

* By 2020: Be ready to take on Russia, Japan and Europe

* By 2050: Match US capabilities

And it seems to be working towards its target. Taiwan, with it's Beijing-friendly government, is no longer a threat; Vietnam is focusing on its economic development and wants to avoid a confrontation; but India is still seen as competition because of its economic clout and soft power.

And this brings us back to the border transgressions. New Delhi believes China isn't really that bothered about its simmering border disputes, but it's important to remember that China has settled the boundary issue with nine of its neighbours, except India.

http://www.ndtv.com/news/india/china_plans_to_dominate_india.php

No more VIP duty

NDTV Correspondent, Friday September 11, 2009, New Delhi

Sources have told NDTV that about 2,500 security personnel from the NSG and other forces will be freed from VIP duty for anti-terror operations.

Now the NSG troops will be made available for anti-terror operations, Home Ministry sources have told NDTV.

Reports also says that review and downgrading of Z and Z + is being processed and will be made effective after winter session of Parliament.

Home Minister P Chidambaram will take a call personally on Z and Z+.

About 500 personal have been freed from review X and Y category already.

http://www.ndtv.com/news/india/no_more_vip_duty.php

Chinese military unhappy with Indian media

September 10, 2009 17:25 IST

Strategic affairs expert B Raman on why the Chinese military is unhappy with the Indian media's shrill anti-China rhetoric and why it could hurt both countries's interests.

In a report titled 'China Refutes Trespass Claims' carried on September 10, The Global Times, the English-language daily published by the Communist Party-owned People's Daily group, has quoted a spokesperson of the Chinese ministry of national defence as saying that Chinese border patrols strictly abide by the relevant agreements on the Line of Actual Control along the India-China border and have never carried out 'provocative actions' towards India.

According to the newspaper, he said on September 9: 'The recent reports by Indian media of intrusions are groundless and irresponsible.' The previous day, Jiang Yu, a spokesperson of the Chinese foreign ministry, had described the India reports of a Chinese troop intrusion into Indian territory near Mount Gya in the Ladakh region as 'groundless and incorrect.'

The Global Times has quoted a source 'close to the Chinese military' as saying as follows: 'Indian media always quotes government officials as their sources, but the Chinese military has not received any protests from the Indian ministry of defence recently.' It further quotes the same source as saying that the reports have 'greatly displeased' officials in the Chinese military.

The paper also quotes Ouyang Wei, a Chinese military expert from the University of National Defence, as claiming that the negative reports on China by Indian media far exceeded negative reports on India in the Chinese media. He described this as a very significant problem in the bilateral relations and added: 'The Indian government should investigate the irresponsible reports, to find the sources of the fake news, and refute the rumours.'

Chinese non-governmental analysts have also been critical of the way sections of the Indian media sensationalised an incident involving the temporary detention of a plane of the UAE air force at Kolkata [ Images ] earlier this week for not correctly declaring that it was carrying a consignment of arms and ammunition and 'combat missiles' to China.

According to them, these arms and ammunition and missiles, which were manufactured in China, had been sent to Abu Dhabi for displaying in an international exhibition of military equipment and were being taken back to China after the exhibition was over. These analysts have expressed surprise over the manner in which the whole issue was sought to be sensationalised by sections of the Indian media as if it was a sinister development.

The same report stated on this incident as follows: 'Dai Xu, a renowned military expert, said that the actions by Indian authorities violated diplomatic rights as the cargo on board belong to China. Any inspection on board, which may have violated China's property rights and constituted spying on its military secrets, should be approved by both the UAE and China,'it quoted Dai as saying.

An unnamed military source told the Global Times the UAE airplane was on a mission transporting Chinese arms from an arms expo in Abu Dhabi. 'When the airplane stopped in Kolkata on Sunday to refuel, the UAE crew member used the empty cargo certificate it used when it flew to China to carry the weapons at the beginning.'

My comment: While it is important for the media to report instances of alleged Chinese troop intrusions into Indian territory, it should take care at the same time not to create an anti-China frenzy, which may get out of control. One was disturbed by the way a national television channel played up in a jingoistic manner the incident in the Ladakh sector in which a Chinese patrol is alleged to have intruded into Indian territory and painted China on a stone.

Two acknowledged experts on China, who have an excellent knowledge of the Chinese language, appeared on the programme -- a reputed academic of Delhi [ Images ] and a retired China expert of the Government of India. One would have expected the anchor to ask them to translate for the viewers what was written on the stone and to comment on the implications of it.

If he had done it, the entire jingoistic programme might have ended in a fizzle. He did not do so. Instead, most of the time, the viewers were subjected to an anti-China harangue by a retired army officer.

I myself do not know Chinese, but I am told by those who know Chinese that what was written on the stone was 'MiddleYellow River'. It could also be translated as central Yellow River.

Middle can also refer to China -- an allusion to the so-called Middle Kingdom. What should have been discussed at the very beginning of the programme was: Normally, detractors of China refer to it as suffering from the Middle Kingdom mentality. Would a Chinese soldier use it? Why the reference to the Yellow River? Where is this river?

Instead of having a balanced debate on such questions, the anchor went bang, bang, bang against China without first ascertaining from the two Chinese experts what exactly was written on the stone, which was shown in a sinister manner to viewers.

We have a very strong case against the Chinese on the border issue, which we should project in a non-sensational, non-jingoistic manner, but by indulging in such methods we might find our credibility weakened in the eyes of the international community.

http://news.rediff.com/column/2009/sep/10/chinese-military-unhappy-with-indian-media.htm

'Don't create alarm over Chinese raid'

11 Sep 2009, 0330 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: After the Army admitted to Chinese incursions, external affairs minister S M Krishna cautioned against creating “excessive alarm”

and maintained that India was closely monitoring the border with China.

“We have been monitoring the Chinese build-up along Arunachal Pradesh and elsewhere. Our defence preparedness is a continuing process,” Mr Krishna told a TV channel.

The external affairs minister has continued to downplay the incursions by Chinese troops into India after the Army admitted that incursions from the Chinese side had taken place. The matter is now set to be taken up with the Chinese in the next flag meeting between the two countries. “I would like to emphasise that there is an established mechanism to deal with such situations. Both sides have agreed that pending the resolution of the border issue, peace and tranquillity must be maintained on the LAC,” the external affairs minister said at the Editors Guild meeting.

He further assured that India’s border with China remained secure. “India is monitoring the situation constantly and there can and will be no lowering of our defences in this regard. Our borders are secure and it serves no purpose to create excessive alarm,” he said.

Sources said that it was important to look at the incursions in a “practical manner” considering the length of the border India shares with China. The government has continued to highlight the fact that India’s border with China is one of the most peaceful boundaries compared to the boundary lines with other countries.

Indian Army Chief Deepak Kapoor had last month admitted that Chinese helicopters had violated Indian airspace along the Line of Actual Control in Leh.

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/Politics/Nation/Dont-create-alarm-over-Chinese-raid/articleshow/4997114.cms

Military Buildup Across the Himalayas: A Shaky Balance

Publication: China Brief Volume: 9 Issue: 18

September 10, 2009 04:19 PM Age: 4 hrs

By: Vijay Sakhuja

Chinese and Indian border guards

In less than one year, China and India will celebrate six decades of bilateral relations capped by festivities in their respective country. This period, however, has been marked by a border war in 1962 that precipitated a long phase of antagonism and hostility between the two sides. Yet, there were several positive trends in their bilateral relations since the late 1980s that buoy the decline in mutual trust: regular high level political interactions; increasing bilateral trade that may reach $60 billion in 2010; boundary demarcation talks since 2003; and joint military exercises, which included two ‘anti terror’ exercises in 2007 and 2008. Most recently, during border talks in August in New Delhi, the two sides agreed to ‘seek a political solution’ to the boundary problems and work towards ‘safeguarding the peace and calmness in the areas along the border’ (Xinhua News Agency, August 6).

Notwithstanding these positive trends, the two Asian powers still suffer from a trust deficit and are increasingly concerned about each other's strategic intent, particularly over their respective military developments across the Himalayas. The Chinese side has specifically warned India of its ‘military initiatives’ in Arunachal Pradesh, a northeastern state of India that includes Tawang—home to one of Tibetan Buddhism’s most sacred monasteries—and claimed by Beijing (Asia Times, July 10), and New Delhi has raised the specter of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) ‘systematic upgrading of infrastructure, reconnaissance and surveillance, quick response and operational capabilities in the border areas’ (Indian Express, July 12). Besides border intrusion, incursions, air space violation and even on one occasion an ambush by PLA soldiers (Tibetanreview.net, August 11) are causing immense concern to the Indian army. In 2008, there were reportedly “270 border violations and nearly 2,300 instances of ‘aggressive border patrolling’ by Chinese soldiers” (New York Times, September 4). Although leaders on both sides try to downplay the border sparring, there is ample evidence pointing to the further augmentation of defense forces and military infrastructure along the border. This could be the harbinger of a spiraling arms race.

Geographical Determinants

Geography is an important factor in the military infrastructure developments along the India-China border. A large part of China’s border lies along the flat Tibetan plateau, which gives China the advantages of higher operational and logistical capability for strategic planning during a military contingency. These favorable geographical settings allowed China to build an extensive network of roads, railheads, forward airfields, pipelines and logistic hubs that appear geared toward supporting military operations. Moreover, China is reportedly deploying intercontinental missiles such as the DF-31 and DF-31A at Delingha, north of Tibet, which can strike targets in northern India (Asia Times, July 9).

Unlike China, Indian troops are deployed on high mountains and have to negotiate a tougher terrain comprising of snow capped peaks, deep valleys, thick jungles and difficult mountain passes. Some of the Indian army posts can be accessed only during favorable weather conditions by animal transport and human porters [1]. Furthermore, a number of forward posts can only be serviced by helicopters for troop induction, logistics support and casualty evacuation. In essence, China enjoys geographical advantage and has built a sophisticated logistic network for conducting offensive operations against India.

Military Infrastructure

China has established a long distance rail link between Beijing and Lhasa and this service would later be extended to Xigaze, South of Lhasa, and then to Yatung, near Nathu La passes [2]. Further, Lhasa would be connected to Nyingchi, just north of Arunachal Pradesh, and the rail network would then run along the Brahmaputra River and the Sino-Indian border to Kunming in Yunnan. The rail project, when complete, would be a technological marvel, but it will be useful to keep in mind that it is being developed on the Tibetan plateau, and thus can provide China with a strategic advantage by enhancing the PLA’s logistic supply chain.

Furthermore, the Chinese authorities have announced plans to widen the Karakoram Highway, which links China to Pakistan, from the existing 10 meters width to 30 meters to allow heavier vehicles to pass throughout the year. According to an Indian military analyst, China has deployed “13 Border Defence Regiments, the 52 Mountain Infantry Brigade to protect Southern Qinghai-Tibet region, the 53 Mountain Infantry Brigade to protect the high plateau in the Western sector, the 149th Division of the 13th Group Army in the Eastern Sector and the 61st Division of the 21st Group Army in the Western Sector” [3]. This is a substantial military concentration, which can provide a forceful initial response in case of a breakout of hostilities across the Himalayas.

Similarly, the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) has established airfields at Hoping, Pangta and Kong Ka, two airfields at Lhasa and an additional four in the region that can be rapidly operationalized [4]. Beyond just supporting fighter aircraft, these air bases have enhanced PLA airlift capability that includes division strength of troops (20,000), air-drop a brigade (3,500 troops) and helicopter lift of approximately two battalions. These figures are for a single lift [5].

In mid-August 2009, the PLA commenced a major military exercise that would be conducted over two months. The war game code named ‘Stride-2009’ (Kuayue-2009) involves nearly 50,000 troops drawn from the military regions of Shenyang, Lanzhou, Jinan and Guangzhou, who would conduct operations over long distances. Significantly, one of the primary aims of the exercises is to test the PLA’s ‘capacity of long-range projection’ (Xinhua News Agency, August 11). The exercise would also marshal civilian assets such as high-speed trains traveling up to 350 kilometers per hour and commercial aircraft to move troops over long distances (China Daily [Beijing], August 12). According to Ni Lexiong, a military analyst at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, “This is really about a rapid response to sudden events in Tibet and Xinjiang, but also the military will play an increasing role in moving supplies and responding to disasters” (Startribune.com [Canada], August 11).

China's sprawling military infrastructure provides the PLA with a strong logistic back up, which enables the rapid deployment of troops and a robust offensive capability. India, on the other hand, is constrained by geography. In June 2009, General J.J. Singh, the governor of Arunachal Pradesh and former chief of the Indian Army stated, “Two army divisions comprising 25,000 to 30,000 soldiers each will be deployed along the border in Arunachal’ and “[deployment] was part of the planned augmentation of our capabilities to defend the country ... The increase in force strength is to meet the future national security challenge” (Reuters, June 8). These two divisions are specially trained in mountain warfare and would augment the number of Indian troops to 120,000 (Stratpost.com, June 8).

Soon thereafter, in July 2009, the Indian Air Force (IAF) announced that it had planned to forward-deploy two squadrons (18 aircraft each) of Su-30 MKI advanced fighter jets at its airbase in Tezpur (150 kilometers south of the Chinese border) in Arunachal Pradesh. According to the IAF chief, “We have plans to improve infrastructure in the north-east. We’re upgrading four-five airfields and Advanced Landing Grounds (ALG). We’re also going to be basing a fleet of Sukhoi-30s in Tezpur in addition to the existing MiG 21s fighter jets” (Stratpost.com, July 21). The ALGs are strategically located at Daulat Beg Oldie and in Chushul on the border with Aksai Chin in the proximity of Karakoram Highway. In addition, the IAF has plans to position Su-30 MKIs at Chabua and Jorhat in Assam, Panagarh in West Bengal and Purnea in Bihar (Sifynews.com, July 10).

Interestingly, there is a maritime dimension to the military developments in the Himalayas. Located at an altitude of 14,500 feet, the Pangong Lake is under the control of both China (90 kilometers) and India (45 kilometers), but a stretch of about 5 km is disputed (Indian Express, October 6, 2008). Both sides have positioned patrol vessels and conduct routine surveillance. There have been regular incidents of transgression and incursions but both sides have exercised restraint and adopted a standard drill that helps disengagement; when boats from both sides come face to face with each other, they raise flags and shout ‘hindi chini bhai bhai’ (Indian and Chinese are brothers) and disengage. China operates 22 boats manned by 5-7 personnel each and India has deployed 2 large boats operated by 21 personnel each. In 2008, the Indian navy chief had visited the lake and India has plans to augment its capability by deploying more boats in the lake (Indian Express, October 7, 2008).

The Indian Ministry of Defense Report 2008-2009 has expressed concerns over China’s military capabilities and observed that ‘greater transparency and openness’ is critical but on a conciliatory note also stated that India will ‘engage China, while taking all necessary measures to protect its national security, territorial integrity and sovereignty’ (Indian Express, July 12). There are fears in India about China’s military modernization and augmentation of military infrastructure along the borders. China has been increasing its defense budget on a regular basis and in 2009 it announced a 14.9 percent rise in military spending to 480.6 billion renminbi ($70.3 billion) marking 21 years of double-digit growth (Defence.pk, March 4). Yet, unofficial estimates place the total amount much higher than the figures the Chinese government claims.

The Indian military leadership has expressed concern about the growing military power potential of China. Admiral Sureesh Mehta, chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, categorically stated that “In military terms, both conventionally and unconventionally, we can neither have the capability nor the intention to match China force for force …” but cautioned that as China consolidates itself and builds its comprehensive national power and a powerful military, it is “likely to be more assertive on its claims, especially in the immediate neighborhood [sic].” Further, “It is quite evident that coping with China will certainly be one of our [India] primary challenges in the years ahead. Our trust deficit with China can never be liquidated unless our boundary problems are resolved” (Zeenews.com, August 10).

In the 21st Century, China and India have emerged as major Asian powers and are engaged in building their respective strengths. The current trends in their bilateral political and economic relations augers well for Asian prosperity. Yet, the slow pace of talks on demarcation and delineation of the boundary (commenced in 2003), military infrastructure developments along the border, are some of the issues that remain uppermost in the minds of Indian planners and strategic analysts. The boundary dispute gains greater salience given the fact that China has resolved its boundary disputes with most of its neighbors, while its dispute with India remains unresolved. It is fair to argue that China is biding time to build its comprehensive national power including military capability reflected in Deng Xiaoping’s thought “tao guang yang hui," which literally translates as "hide brightness, nourish obscurity," and in Beijing’s interpretation, "Bide our time and build up our capabilities" and then challenge India at the time of its choosing.

Notes

1. Author's discussions with retired Indian army officers in August 2009.

2. Shailender Arya, “The Train to Lhasa’ Journal of Defence Studies, winter 2008.

3. Rajan, D.S. 2009. ‘China: Media Anger on Arunachal Pradesh Continues Unabated’, SAAG Paper No. 3260, June 18, 2009.

4. Arun Sehgal, “Military Moves and Reactions: The PLA’s Profile in Tibet is Increasing in Strength and Sophistication”, Pragati: The Indian National Interest Review, No 28, July 2009, pp.15-18.

5. Ibid.

http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=35469&tx_ttnews[backPid]=7&cHash=bcac9215bc

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