e-paper-stories Latest News

China willing to discuss restoring LAC status quo of April 2020

Beijing: China on Thursday said that India’s proposal for the restoration of the status quo of April 2020 in eastern Ladakh could be discussed at the next meetings between the two countries.

China also said that there is no delay in holding talks with India to discuss the disengagement of troops from the remaining friction points in eastern Ladakh, amid reports about the likelihood of the 11th round of corps commander-level talks on Friday.

Asked to confirm the date for the 11th round of China-India Corps Commander-level meeting to discuss further disengagement in eastern Ladakh, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing here that “China and India are in communication on the holding of the 11th round of talks.”

“As for the specific date for the upcoming talks, I have no information,” he said.

The spokesman also denied any delay in holding of the 11th round of talks when pointed out that it is going to be about two months since the first disengagement has taken place and a month since the 10th round of talks on the disengagement of troops.

“There is no delayed meeting as you cited. I want to stress that the merits of the situation at the India-China border are very clear and the responsibility does not rest with the Chinese side,” Zhao said.

“We hope the Indian side will work with China to follow through the important consensus of our two state leaders, abide by relevant agreements and treaties to de-escalate the tension at the border,” he said.

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India Latest News

Putin looking forward to visiting India

New Delhi/Moscow: The dates for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India this year, at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, are being finalized as the two countries look to strengthen their strategic partnership.

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, who is on an official two-day visit to Moscow, revealed this on Wednesday.

The move assumes significance in view of the recent developments in India’s relations with the US and China. The government has taken strong objection to the US social media platforms enabling mobilization of violent protesters against India’s farm reforms and other internal decisions. At the same time, India’s military has disengaged with China along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, after a 10-month-long stand-off.

“Clearly there is a lot that is happening in the relationship. It is a very very important relationship for both countries. I think we will see some developments in the next few months that would reinforce the close and strategic partnership that we both enjoy,” Shringla said in a video link from Moscow, underlining the significance of his visit.

Shringla is holding India-Russia foreign office consultations with deputy foreign minister Igor Morgulov. The two sides are reviewing the entire gamut of bilateral relations, including the forthcoming high-level exchanges, the ministry of external affairs said in a statement.

Speaking from Moscow, Shringla said that he had a “very good meeting” with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, who emphasised the importance of the strategic relationship between India and Russia. The foreign secretary extended an invitation to him on behalf of the external affairs ministry for a visit to India. He said Lavrov is looking forward to the meeting at the earliest.

The two sides also spoke about the annual summit. Lavrov told Shringla that President Putin is looking forward to his visit at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“The visit will take place on a date to be decided between the two sides,” Shringla said in Moscow.

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India Latest News R-Day Special

Tableaux showcase social, economic progress

New Delhi: The tableaux that rolled down on the Rajpath in New Delhi reflected India’s cultural diversity and social and economic progress.

Seventeen tableaux from Gujarat, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Tripura, West Bengal, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, National Capital Territory of Delhi and Ladakh were showcased at the parade, depicting the geographical and rich cultural diversity of the country.

These tableaux included the vision for Ladakh to be carbon-neutral, the Sun Temple at Modhera in Mehsana district of Gujarat, Tea tribes of Assam, Shore Temple and other monuments of Pallava dynasty in Tamil Nadu.

The Department of Biotechnology’s tableau on the theme Atmanirbhar Bharat, showcased the country’s homegrown Covid-19 vaccines with the slogan “Mission Covid Suraksha”.

The much-appreciated tableaux pertained to Bhakti Movement and Saints of Maharashtra, Dev Bhoomi – The Land of the Gods, Kedarnath, Splendorous Sounds of Chhattisgarh’s Folk Music, 400th Birth Anniversary of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur, promotion of eco-friendly tradition for achieving self-reliance (Atmanirbhar) in Tripura and Sabooj Sathi – Wheels of Change in West Bengal.

The tableaux of Ayodhya: Cultural Heritage of Uttar Pradesh, Redevelopment of Shahjahanabad in Old Delhi, Vijayanagara- The City of Victory, Coir of Kerala, Lepakshi – Architectural Monolithic Marvels of Andhra Pradesh, Pang Lhabsol Festival of Sikkim, and East meets West theme of Arunachal Pradesh mesmerised those sitting on the lawns of the Rajpath.

The tableaux of Ministries and Departments on growing challenges for India and its success story showcased digital and self-reliant India, four labour codes that depict the guiding philosophy of Mehnat Ek Samaan, Adhikar Ek Samaan, One Nation, One Sign Language, and Ojo Bharat, Tejo Bharat: Immune India, Active India.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting showcased New India and Vocal for Local themes while the Border Roads Organisation displayed Connecting Places, Connecting People, Amar Jawan and Heralding 75th Year of Indian Independence.

The tableau of Ladakh passes through the Rajpath. Manojkumar
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India Latest News

How India needs to better engage with neighbours

1. India-China border clash

The tumultuous year saw the first deadly clash between Indian and Chinese armies in the last 45 years in the mountainous Ladakh region in June. The ties between Pakistan India also remained at odds amid frequent clashes along with the disputed Jammu and Kashmir border.

The military standoff followed New Delhi’s unilateral decision to separate Ladakh from disputed Jammu and Kashmir and revoke the Himalayan region’s semi-autonomous status in August last year, a move vehemently opposed by Beijing and Islamabad.

Ladakh region which borders China and Pakistan serves as the world’s only “nuclear trijunction.”

Since May, Chinese troops have altered the status quo along the border with India, claimed the lives of 20 Indian soldiers, and violated every agreement to maintain peace.

2. Chinese incursion in Nepal

KP Sharma Oli’s government in Nepal is facing increasing heat and is under pressure from several quarters to speak up against the boundary encroachment by China.

Reports suggested that China has encroached upon Nepali territory in Humla district and one boundary pillar no 12 has been constructed by the Chinese without notice of the Nepalese side. Without a bilateral agreement, no boundary pillar can be repaired by either side.

The local elected representatives have also accused China of encroaching upon Nepali territory and asked with the government to send a fact-finding team to find out the truth.

3: Acceptance for Taliban

Having invaded Afghanistan 19 years ago trying to root out the Taliban, the US finally made peace with them in February as it looked to exit. For India, this meant a beginning of the process of re-engaging with the Taliban, and New Delhi reached out with External Affairs minister S Jaishankar’s attendance through virtual mode and a senior Indian diplomat in Doha.

Signalling long-term commitment to Afghanistan’s future — under Taliban or other political forces — India has committed $80 million, over and above its $3 billion commitment in the last two decades. This means New Delhi too is finally looking at the Taliban as a political actor, although it is controlled by the Pakistan military.

4: Assertive neighbors

The year began with Bangladesh asserting itself on CAA-NRC, and then Nepal claiming territory and issuing a new map. It brought home the reality that neighbors are no pushovers. By the end of the year, New Delhi had moved to build bridges with both, wary of an active Beijing. Bangladesh pushed back, and India did not notify the CAA rules. Nepal reached out at the highest level.

India also watched closely the US and Chinese forays with Maldives and Sri Lanka. India appears to have made peace with the involvement of the US in Maldives, and that of Japan in Sri Lanka and Maldives.

As the world emerges from the pandemic, New Delhi has a lot to gain from what could be “vaccine diplomacy” with neighbors in 2021 — supplying vaccines either free or at affordable cost.

Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina during the India-Bangladesh virtual bilateral summit, in New Delhi in December. (Photo: courtesy, PTI)
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India Latest News

China urges India to restore normal trade relations

New Delhi: Upset by India’s latest ban on 43 Chinese mobile applications, China on Wednesday urged the government to restore the trade relations for mutual benefit.

“China and India are the opportunities of development to each other rather than threats. Both sides should bring bilateral economic and trade relations back to the right path for mutual benefit and win-win results on the basis of dialogue and negotiation,” said an official statement issued by the Chinese embassy in New Delhi.

The embassy was responding to a media query related the Indian government’s decision to block the usage of 43 mobile applications with Chinese background including AliExpress, DingTalk, etc.

The Chinese Communist Party regime “firmly opposes the Indian side’s repeated use of national security as an excuse to prohibit some mobile applications with Chinese background,” the statement said.

The embassy further claimed that the Chinese government has “always required overseas Chinese companies to abide by international rules, operate in compliance with laws and regulations and conform to public order and good morals.”

Spokesperson of the embassy Ji Rong said that China hoped India “provides a fair, impartial and non-discriminatory business environment for all market players from various countries including China, and rectify the discriminatory practices violating WTO rules.”

The statement comes at a time when India and China remain locked in a stand-off along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh since June. India has taken several diplomatic measures in retaliation to the Chinese aggression, including banning of Chinese applications over data security issues.

Meanwhile, the eighth round of talks of the India-China senior military commanders were held in Chushulon on November 6 to ensure complete disengagement and full restoration of peace and tranquility along the LAC in the Western Sector. Both countries have agreed to continue their dialogue and communication through military and diplomatic channels.

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International Latest News

US support for India rattles China

New Delhi: Rattled by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s strong support for India, China has said in a statement that the “boundary question is a bilateral matter” and there is “no space” for a third party to intervene.

“The boundary question is a bilateral matter between China and India. The two sides have been discussing disengagement and de-escalation in the border areas through diplomatic and military channels. China and India have the wisdom and ability to handle their differences properly. There’s no space for a third party to intervene,” said a statement released by the Chinese Embassy.

The statement came after Pompeo had said in reference to the military stand-off in Ladakh that the US “will stand with India as it confronts threats to its sovereignty and liberty.”

Beijing said the development of bilateral ties between countries should not “infringe upon legitimate rights and interests of a third party” and should be conducive to regional peace, stability and development.

China also accused the US of pitching an Indo-Pacific strategy to maintain its dominance. “The ‘Indo-Pacific strategy’ proposed by the US is to stir up confrontation among different groups and blocs and to stoke geopolitical competition, in a bid to maintain the dominance of the US, organize closed and exclusive ideological cliques,” its statement said.

Pompeo arrived in India on Oct 26 along with Defense Secretary Mark T Esper for the third edition of the US-India 2+2 dialogue. (With NDTV inputs)

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India Latest News

India warns Twitter over location settings showing Leh in China

In a letter to Twitter Inc CEO Jack Dorsey, the government expressed its disapproval of the “misrepresentation of the map of India” and asked the company to “respect sensitivities of Indian citizens” sources said.

The geo-location of Leh, which is the headquarters of the union territory of Ladakh, was shown on Twitter as part of China. Leh is the largest town in Ladakh.

Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir are “integral and inalienable parts of India governed by the Constitution of India” the Indian government told Twitter after the social media platform’s location settings showed Leh as part of China, government sources said.

The government, sources added, conveyed to Twitter that any attempt by the social media giant to “disrespect sovereignty and integrity of India, which is also reflected by the maps, is totally unacceptable” and “unlawful.”

The government’s warning to Twitter comes amid the tense standoff with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Tension peaked in June when 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the line of duty in a clash with the Chinese at Galwan Valley.

There have been several rounds of military and diplomatic talks between the two sides to resolve the standoff but the Chinese have refused to adhere to agreements on restoring the status quo.

Ladakh was carved out from Jammu and Kashmir and granted the union territory status on August 5 last year when the center scrapped the special status and split it into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

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Bollywood Latest News

SF International South Asian Film fest to pay homage to Irrfan Khan

The 18th annual San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival will be held Oct 23-25 by way of a virtual event, its organizer 3rd I Films announced. 

The three-day festival will screen a select program of narrative features and shorts by independent filmmakers from South Asia and its diaspora, including stories from India, South Africa and the Pakistani and Sikh communities in the U.S., the release notes.

To keep connected and support the South Asian community, 3rd i’s film festival, “Bollywood and Beyond,” will be offered for free this year as a completely virtual experience.

This year’s festival presents an homage to one of the greats of Indian cinema, Irrfan Khan, who lost his battle with cancer in early 2020.

For this year’s festival, 3rd i Films brings back “Road to Ladakh” (which premiered at 3rd i’s inaugural festival in 2003) – a sensual suspenseful love story revolving around an encounter between two strangers thrown together by chance into the magnificent wilderness of Ladakh, near the borders of India and Pakistan.

A post-screening discussion will follow with Oscar nominee director Ashvin Kumar. It is free with registration, the release added.

Another film from the 3rd i archives this year is Avie Luthra’s “Lucky,” a narrative based on a short of the same name, which was nominated for an Oscar award in 2005.

Festival attendees can access scheduled screenings and filmmaker discussions from the safety of their homes, after registering online.

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International Latest News

Chinese Chequers at LAC: Is India making the right moves?

BY Maj Gen (Retd) SB Asthana

The current China-India standoff in Eastern Ladakh has seen multiple rounds of talks failing to ease tensions, with continued troop build-up under the shadow of talks.

The Chinese political aim in the Asian context has always been to have a China-centric Asia, for which forcing Indian subordination has been its goal. The Chinese strategic aim to pick Eastern Ladakh is to provide depth to its highway NH G-219, Karakoram Pass and CPEC, redraw LAC as per its perception and negotiate the border thereafter. China does feel threatened by Indian dispositions in India’s Sub Sector North (SSN) including DBO, infrastructure development including DSDBO road, and the Indian resolve to reclaim its territory of Jammu and Kashmir, posing a threat to the crucial Tibet-Xinjiang-Pakistan connectivity and BRI prospects. The PLA’s centre of gravity of military operations is Eastern Ladakh and the build-up/intended gains in the rest of the LAC are efforts to pick up bargaining chips.

The PLA’s tactical aim is to launch probing actions to gain some tactically significant features sensitive to Indian defense before heavy snowfall, which can collectively improve its strategic posture or bargaining position. The Indian military is well aware of these intentions; hence the reluctance of Chinese verifiable withdrawal could lead to probing actions/reactions to improve tactical posture.

Strategically, President Xi Jinping miscalculated global anger against himself while trying to make the best of Chinese early recovery from COVID-19. Having made an unwarranted aggressive move in Ladakh, along with similar activities in South and East China Sea, President Xi Jinping now faces major democracies standing up against China’s overambitious aggressive design, with few bankrupt countries standing by its side to handle multiple engagement points.

The gross violation of confidence-building measures (CBMs) in Ladakh by China has opened all military options for India, besides responses in economic, diplomatic and other domains, with international opinion in its favor. A pullback has a heavy domestic political cost for Xi Jinping, besides the threat of occupation of vacated areas by India. Pushing the PLA to make some quick gains before the winters and engaging in talks to freeze the situation thereafter to retain its gains is the Chinese game plan.

Talks alone are unlikely to make the PLA recoil. India will have to raise the cost of PLA’s presence in unauthorised areas like Depsang even if it amounts to a long haul on LAC and some military options besides what is being done.

India needs to avoid any quick fix diplomatic solutions like five-point agreement, seeking fresh CBMs, mutual disengagement and ideas like buffer zones which help the Chinese agenda like many other historic errors in the past. Pulling back from freshly occupied heights south of Pangong Tso will be a strategic disaster for India.

This requires political, diplomatic and military decision makers to be on the same page. The Indian strategic aim should be to insist on proper delimitation and demarcation of the LAC (which is difficult but doable), pending settlement of the border issue.

Chinese aggression on multiple fronts has necessitated the need for an Indo-Pacific alliance of democratic countries which can be built up by strengthening Quad, by converting it to a military alliance on the lines of NATO.

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