Thursday, December 2, 2010

Border talks fail to break the ice

Last updated on December 1, 2010

The 14th round of high-level Sino-Indian diplomatic talks to resolve the Himalayan border issue ended in Beijing on November 30 with a joint pledge to "seek a fair and reasonable solution acceptable to both sides."
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that his country was “committed to resolving the border question through frank consultations with India. It is willing to make joint efforts with India to maintain peace and stability on the border.”
The talks, held in Beijing during Nov 29-3 were focused on finding a framework for a final settlement of disputed areas in the western and eastern sections of the border. The meeting was attended by Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo and the Indian National Security Adviser and special representative on border talks, Shiv Shankar Menon.
China’s official newspaper Global Times said that the Chinese government’s position was that both countries “will take into consideration each other’s concerns, and work toward an equitable and justified settlement of border issues that is acceptable to both sides.” However, it quoted Zhao Gancheng, a leading Chinese strategist, as saying that “Indian activities near the border” and “remarks made by senior Indian officials who played up the China threat” had “harmed the chances” of reaching a quick resolution.
On the other hand, The Hindu on November 30 cited Indian officials as saying in an online report that a hardening of China’s claims on Arunachal Pradesh meant the talks were likely to remain long drawn-out. Last year, China had voiced strong opposition to the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to the State. Nevertheless, Outlook in its e-issue of Nov 30 cited Menon, who held three rounds of talks with his Chinese counterpart, as saying that steady progress was being made with discussions focused on working out a framework to resolve the border dispute. It said Menon and Dai discussed the whole gamut of issues bedeviling the two countries, including the resumption of defense exchanges put on hold by India following denial of visa to a top Indian millitary official, B S Jaswal.
These talks had assumed a great degree of importance as they took place ahead of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India starting December10. China’s recent activities on the eastern (Arunachal) border were expected to fuel a strong stand from the Indian delegate. The construction of a dozen dams on the Brahmaputra River by the Chinese, including the world’s largest dam in the Nyngtri perfecture just near the The Great Bend, where the Brahmputra enters India and its plan to divert its water to the North-eastern cities had created great mistrust and suspicion on the Indian side.
Also China’s plan to create a rail link till Nyngtri near the Arunachal border had raised Indian eyebrows. The two sides discussed unresolved disagreements including Chinese stapled visas to resident of Kashmir, India’s suspension of high-level defense exchanges and the Chinese footprint in infrastructure projects being implemented in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
China occupies part of Jammu and Kashmir region ceded to it by Pakistan. Besides, India alleges that China illegally occupies 43,000 square kilometers of land in Kashmir. China refuses to accept the McMohan line as the Sino-Indian border and lays claim to the whole of Arunachal Pradesh on the ground that it was once part of Tibet.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Shooters off-Target in Guangzhou

Last updated on November 28, 2010 20:00IST

The disappointing show by the Indian shooters at the recently concluded Asian games in Guangzhou has left every ardent Indian supporter shell-shocked. The Indian Shooting Federation is busy finding reasons for the poor showing in an event in which we are supposed to be a force to reckon with on the world stage.
As it usually happens, somebody had to take the responsibility. The chief coach of the Shooting Federation, Sunny Thomas, who had been the chief coach for the past seventeen years, took the moral responsibility and resigned. But the reasons he gave for the below par performances of the shooters did not amuse many. According to him, the Indians were not used to the windy conditions prevalent in the shooting range. Another reason for shooters not performing up to the mark was that they were using new rifles. So they lacked practice before a big tournament with their weapons.
But to find the precise reasons we have to analyze the situation. After the recently concluded Commonwealth Games in which India topped the tally in shooting with 14 gold medals, what went so seriously wrong with Indian shooters? This may be a baffling question for many. But to those who had kept an eye on Indian shooters, their performances and problems for the last few years, this would not be a surprise for them.
When Abhinav Bindra won a gold medal in the Beijing Olympics, he had accused the Indian Shooting Federation of nepotism and corruption. He also brought to light the problems the shooters are facing. They are short of practice as they do not get bullets on time. Only those shooters who can afford it on their own make it big. But many people did not pay heed to him that time.
  Then came the Commonwealth Games in which India won 14 gold medals.
The nation was full of praise and accolades for our shooters. But only few cared to know that the Commonwealth Games standards were far lower than those at Asian Games. So, realistically speaking, no pundit would have hoped for a repeat of Commonwealth Games. But what disappointed was the failure of our top shooters like Abhinav Bindra,
catching the bird's eye- Sodhi
Gagan Narang etal. to win the yellow metal.Their performances indicated that they lacked practice after the Commonwealth games. Their scores at the games were far less what they were usually scoring at the practice sessions. This put fore the need for a psychologist as pointed out by Bindra. Only Ronjan Sodhi provided the yellow spark in the eyes of the Indian contingent. But even his performance was below his personal best and also below the level he shot to get a silver medal in the Commonwealth Games.

 The Shooting Federation of India didn’t pay attention either to the shooters after the Commonwealth Games. It was busy in taking pride for achieving the most successful medal haul,forgetting that a bigger challenge lay ahead. The federation is full of corrupt politicians with Digvijai Singh, a Rajya Sabha member, as its head. Most of the federation members know very little about the sport and its requirement. So they contribute very little in the growth of the game. Shooting being an expensive game requires government support which is lacking. Foreign coaches are needed. Efforts should be made to provide proper exposure to the shooters on the world arena. This will instill self-belief and the shooters will not be over-awed by the big stage.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

China flexes its arms yet again

Vineet Tripathi
Last updated on November 24, 2010 20:10 IST

The Chinese fling surprises in a manner that the world feels aghast. They are inured to a way of life that is clouded by clandestine and surreptitious activities defying proper comprehension. The latest Chinese moves vis-à-vis India are its designs of constructing rail link touching the contentious border area of Arunachal Pradesh and construction of the world’s biggest dam on the river Brahmputra.

Apart from developing rail links in Tibetan areas which includes extension of the Lhasa rail link to Xigage near Tibet’s border with Nepal, China is simultaneously working on bringing its rail link right up to Nyangtri- located on the border with Arunachal Pradesh and an area which China claims as its own. This assertiveness on the part of China is sufficient to raise the eyebrows of Indian officials.
Nyangtri is also the site where the Brahmaputra is proposed to be diverted northwards by the Chinese. China proposes to build the largest dam in the world at this spot. Brahmputra rises in Lake Mansarovar in Tibet and enters India through The Great Bend near Nyangtri. By building this dam, China plans to divert 200 billion cusec meters of water every year to the cities of north eastern region of Shaanxi, Hebei, Beijing and Tianjin.

The Great Bend is the place where the Brahmputra takes a decisive turn and flows towards India. China proposes to build as many as six dams in addition to a dozen it has already constructed. Experts fear that construction of a dam on the middle reaches of Brahmputra at Zangmo in China may slowly turn biodiversity rich Assam and Arunachal Pradesh into semi-arid areas and deplete the ground water table. It may be mentioned here that India does not have any water sharing treaty with China in contrast to Pakistan.

Strategic affairs expert Brahma Chellaney describes the rail link to Nyangtri as a significant new development. “The building of railways in this area is significant for two reasons: China’s plan to construct the world’s largest dam at this place and also because it will strengthen China’s rapid military deployment ability in the eastern (Arunachal) sector. These issues are likely to figure prominently during the visit of Chinese premier Wen Jia Bao to India in the mid of next month. (December)

China’s focus on expanding its railways south of Lhasa is alarming also because of the reports that for the first time earlier this year ‘combat readiness material’ meant for the Chinese air force was transported to the region through the Tibetan rail link. The Chinese army recently reported that China conducted its first major parachute exercise in Tibet to demonstrate its capability to rapidly deploy troops on the world’s highest plateau.

The two Asian giants have a history of border disputes and other contentious issues. The two countries had fought a war also in 1962 on the Arunachal border issue which India lost. The relations between these countries since then have been of mistrust and suspicion. Recently, China vetoed an aid from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to India for the development of Arunachal Pradesh.