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RAM JETHMALANI
ETHICS & POWER

Ram Jethmalani is a senior politician and eminent lawyer.

Govt should stop appeasing China

China has slowly encircled us by making sustained large investments in all our neighbouring countries.

Indian soldiers in procession at the Indo-China border in Bumla, Arunchal Pradesh.

t is with great sadness that I inform the youth of our country that the legacy that the unscrupulous and corrupt rulers of today leave for them and the middle classes, is the responsibility of repurifying democracy and de-lumpenizing politics. Politics must once again be made respectable if it has to attract the best talent of the country, and this is only possible if money and touts that oil the wheels of our democracy from start to finish are banished. Committed and patriotic men and women, who place national interest at the forefront, must enter politics to repair our wrecked democracy and reconstruct the nation.

Young India also inherits a precarious security situation, both internal and external. The youth and intelligentsia should try and understand India's long term and short term strategic requirements, and keep a watchful eye over government's actions or inaction. Security is an area that successive governments have allowed to turn from bad to worse, particularly during the last decade. Just as the Congress party believes that vote bank politics is their profoundest contribution to protecting our national interest, it also seems to believe that appeasement of China is the most effective means of protecting our northeastern border. The result is that the Chinese have persisted undeterred in aggressively encircling India by land and sea, fully encouraged by our passivity and appeasement. During the last decade, China concentrated on encircling India over land, and establishing a strong presence in all our neighbouring countries. During the present decade, it is determined to encircle us by sea as well, and is strengthening its presence over the South China Sea and Indian Ocean. India has yet to get its act together to counter China's expansionistic and hegemonic design with intelligent and effective policy. But alas, this might have to wait. Seasoned analysts have concluded that our government presently suffers from something called "policy paralysis". Understandable, as its entire time is consumed by devising strategies for covering up its innumerable scams.

The Chinese have outmanoeuvred us on every count, and in response we always had our policy of appeasement ready for them, whether it was their annexation of Tibet, or Aksai Chin, the McMahon Line, Arunachal and Kashmir, on stapled visas, in trade or on terrorism. We have been unable to resolve our border dispute, and have suffered our greatest military humiliation at their hands. After losing thousands of square miles of Indian territory, no government has done anything to recover our territory, despite our pledge that we would not rest till every square inch is conquered back from the Chinese. China continues to treat us like a defeated nation, and to the best of my knowledge has never expressed diplomatic solidarity with us, when acts of terrorism occur in India from across the border.

China continues to engage in military transportation, road and infrastructure building in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, over which India has legal sovereignty. It has encircled us by making large investments in all our neighbouring countries, building roads in Nepal, oil and gas pipelines in Myanmar, and deepwater ports in Pakistan and Bangladesh, including a seaport in Gwadar in the turbulent Balochistan region that was to be run by Singapore for the benefit of China. Gwadar port, which lies near the Strait of Hormuz, gateway for about 20% of the world's oil, was handed over to China in February 2013. There is no doubt that this so called "purely commercial venture", as China and Pakistan call it, is in reality a sinister message of their common intent to encircle India. Chinese state media has gone to the extent of saying that "the Gwadar port at the mouth of the Arabian Sea will deter India from carrying out any action planned against Pakistan". Defence Minister A.K. Antony, has not yet had time to comment about this very serious development or inform the nation regarding what steps he proposes to take regarding the loss of strategic depth by India.

Bolstering Pakistan against India serves Chinese foreign policy's two main goals: weaken and humiliate India, and position itself as the sole dominant superpower in Asia and the entire eastern world. India reacts almost masochistically to the diplomatic torture that the Chinese regularly inflict upon us, especially regarding stapled visas and Arunachal, opposing World Bank and ADB projects in Arunachal, even official protests against visits to Arunachal by the Prime Minister and the President.

Security analysts and think tanks currently believe that striking India once again before the end of this decade is on the Chinese agenda. It is highly unlikely that our border dispute will be settled through bilateral negotiation. I have always believed that the entire border dispute between the two countries must be settled by the International Court of Justice, unless the Chinese are prepared to accept arbitration by some world dignitaries enjoying the confidence of both countries.

Pakistan and Iran have recently launched construction, on the Pakistani side, of a new pipeline that will funnel natural gas from Iran's South Pars field in the Gulf to energy-starved Pakistan, defying US sanctions related to its nuclear activities. It's a strange love affair, between Pakistan and its strategic ally and chief financer, the US, which describes the relationship as "toxic". Will the Obama administration hit back with sanctions?

Two of our neighbours possess the capacity to wage a nuclear war. Only recently, when a small dispute between India and Pakistan over water could not be settled by our ministers and their officials, two Pakistani politicians, notorious for their audacity, made statements of a blood curdling nature. One of them said that if water does not flow the Pakistan way, rivers of blood (obviously Indian) will flow. The second threatened a nuclear war.

My lifelong commitment to Indo-Pak friendship is under severe strain.

Postscript: In my last piece, I offered unsolicited advice to my friend Mulayam Singh about breaking free from Congress blackmail. This week, I have some for my friend, Nitish Kumar, Honourable Chief Minister of Bihar. I am confident that he recognises that the nation by an overwhelming majority is aware that India's poverty and destitution are the products of boundless corruption since decades. Politicians as a class are now regarded as irredeemably corrupt. Accusing other politicians regarding their secularity, with eyes focused on vote banks and not on the true essence of secularism, is not the best way of strengthening democracy, eradicating corruption or improving governance. Finding a new lever of attack through malnutrition of children and adults is his latest weapon since all other weapons have failed. That too in an area where his own state ranks as one of the worst in India. It might only appear to be a diabolical way of further wrecking democracy, and aiding and abetting the corrupt. A current joke circulating around the country is: "If one politician falls into the river and drowns, it will be a case of pollution; but if all meet the same fate together it will be the best purificatory solution."

 
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