Sino-Indian relations

Print edition : September 26, 1998

The relations between India and China were strained following New Delhi's statement made four months ago - that its nuclear tests became imperative because of the threat from China. It is regrettable that since then the Indian Government has not bothered to take any initiative to improve relations with China. It is sad that a striking image of "Hindi-Chini bhai bhai" (1954) stands converted into one of "Hindi-Chini Bye Bye" today thanks to the lack of vision in foreign affairs on the part of our present government.

The Cover Story ("India and China - What lies ahead?", September 25) has rightly brought out the fact that our Government has akratically undermined Sino-Indian relations and that the situation is far from irremediable. The targeting of China as a potential security threat - prior to the Pokhran nuclear explosions, by our Defence Minister, and in provocative and unfriendly terms after the tests by Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee, in his letter to U.S. President Bill Clinton - has dealt a serious blow to the post-1998 process of normalising, improving and developing the relations.

You have rightly said that our state policy should be based on cooperation rather than confrontation and that we must learn a lesson from the fiasco of targeting China as an excuse for our nuclear tests. We must have a coherent view of how Sino-Indian relations have fared over the years. The Government should, in all seriousness, analyse the reasons for the recent setback to the bilateral relations and ponder over what needs to be done to bring them back on track. There are many people in this country who may oppose any effort to cultivate China but the need for India to clarify, for the longer term, its policy towards China - our main economic rival in the region - cannot be wished away. On an unofficial level, it is heartening to note that a high-level eight-member delegation from China has come to the 17th congress of the Communist Party of India in Chennai. Further, a Congress(I) delegation has been invited to visit China. Why is there no similar Government move in sight?

Onkar Chopra New Delhi

The Cover Story dispelled many misconceptions about China. The excellent photographs, which provide glimpses of China, virtually transported the reader to the People's Republic.

Prof. Zhang Yunling's statement that nobody in China treats India as an enemy is a revelation. India should try to form an alliance to put a check on the United States, which is acting like the world's policeman. This alliance will also act as a deterrent to Pakistan. India and China should go back to the slogan 'Hindi-Chini bhai bhai'.

S. Raghunatha Prabhu Alappuzha, Kerala Election debate

Chief Election Commissioner Dr. M.S. Gill's suggestion that Article 356 be amended to provide for the imposition of President's rule in States where Assembly elections are announced has created a controversy ("Another election debate", September 25).

Predictably, almost all political parties have rejected the suggestion. President's rule in any State means rule by the party in power at the Centre. Will it not be partisan? Otherwise, why should those parties in power at the Centre demand the dismissal of duly elected governments run by their rivals? In fact, there is a need for scrapping Article 356 itself to prevent its rather frequent misuse.

A. Jacob Sahayam Vellore, Tamil Nadu

It is a wise suggestion, which has to be seriously considered by all democratic elements in the country.

A similar suggestion was made by Justice M.S. Krishna of the Andhra Pradesh High Court way back in 1968 in the Vandematharam Ramachandra Rao vs. Channa Reddy case before the Election Tribunal (High Court). M. Channa Reddy was a Minister in the Cabinet of K. Brahmananda Reddi and it was proved that he had made an appeal to Muslim voters from a mosque in the Tandur constituency in the name of religion. The official machinery was used for this purpose. Hence the suggestion by the Tribunal.

K.C. Kalkura Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh Islamisation Bill

Nawaz Sharif's brainchild, the Shariat bill, undermines the sanctity of the Constitution, the supremacy of Parliament and the human rights of the people of Pakistan ("The Islamic bombshell," September 25). The bill is in no way going to bail out Pakistan from corruption, sectarian violence and its financial crisis. The Islamisation move is only aimed to fulfil the hidden desire of Sharif to become a religious dictator.

Rahul Jain Cardiff, United Kingdom Survival stakes

The political intrigues resorted to by those who captured power in the last elections have been highlighted in "Survival stakes" (September 11). I wonder whether any political party functions today on the basis of principles. Opportunism seems to be the hall-mark of political parties. The grotesque political antics of parties only serve to erase the vestiges of the people's faith in the democratic system.

M. Hari Chengalpattu, Tamil Nadu Landslips

Landslips have become a common occurrence during the rainy season and usually pilgrims to the shrines of Badrinath and Kedarnath encounter at least one or two landslips en route. This year the rains have been rather heavy, causing huge landslips in Malpa and Rudraprayag which resulted in heavy loss of life and property.

Deforestation is just one of the reasons for this. The fact remains that the Himalayas are one of the most unstable mountain ranges in the world as these are growing continuously. Heavy rains loosen the soil and the slightest disturbance triggers landslips.

Human activity is another reason for landslips. The roads that have been carved out of the hillsides are a boon to the villagers and trekkers but a bane to the fragile Himalayan environment.

Management of this problem would involve a study of, among other things, soil mechanics, rainfall patterns and the human activity in the region. Providing adequate drainage by fitting steel pipes into the soil, where feasible, building stone embankments covered by wire meshes, and afforestation are some of the measures that can minimise landslips. The possibility of taking international expertise to study the problem of landslips and to initiate measures to control them may be considered. Relocating villagers in the hazardous zones can be a long-term solution.

D.B.N. Murthy Bangalore Sea Bird

This refers to the interesting feature on Project Sea Bird ("For a base at Karwar," September 11).

In a country where 25 million people are homeless and 171 million people do not have access to safe drinking water, it is criminal to spend a whopping Rs.25,000 crores to build a naval base. The project cost has escalated from Rs.1,760 crores to Rs.25,000 crores in 12 years. Going by the cost of rehabilitation, which has escalated from a mere Rs.23 crores to Rs.142 crores, the overall cost is bound to go up in the next 20 years. A mere 10 per cent of the projected cost would be enough to upgrade the existing naval bases on the west coast.

Robin Rajan Mumbai Minority bashing

It is disgraceful on the part of Hindu organisations such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bajrang Dal to show such an inimical attitude towards the minority communities in Gujrat ("An offensive against minorities", September 11).

Such organisations, which consider themselves the true representatives of Hindus, are responsible for ruining the image of Hinduism. Their leaders are unaware of the real teachings of this glorious religion, which stresses on tolerance and treating other religions equally. Such fundamentalist tendencies are against the spirit of Hinduism.

Nidhi Mishra Jaipur Kashmir

"Flashpoint Kashmir" (August 28) seems to blame Pokhran-II for all the ills of Kashmir. This is an exaggeration. It is true that the Kashmir problem came into focus again after the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan. But the shelling across the border intensified in July-August because Pakistan's Army was trying to act in tune with the attitude their Prime Minister displayed in Colombo during the SAARC summit. Nawaz Sharif had come to the summit with a closed mind about holding talks with Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee. Such an attitude cannot help improve relations.

The Indian Government should try to improve its relations with Kashmiris. Confidence-building measures are more necessary between Kashmiris on the one hand and the State and Central Governments on the other, than between India and Pakistan.

Kirandeep Ropar, Haryana The End of Imagination

On reading Arundhati Roy's thought-provoking essay ("The End of Imagination", August 14), one feels her entry into the realm of non-fiction writing should be welcomed. She has raised many valid points and argued convincingly that no war can be won with nuclear weapons.

It is frustrating to note that the people of India have become vote-banks and that no political party takes their opinions into consideration. I feel that it is out of this sense of frustration that Arundhati Roy has gone to the extent of arguing that India is an artificial country with no common culture, language or national identity. She also says that people are so ignorant and illiterate that they do not have a concept of a nation.

Her views about Indian identity are not acceptable. India is not artificial. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata answer the questions raised about Indian identity. The places described in them still exist in India and its neighbouring countries. The fact that Indians in Uganda and the West Asian countries came back to India when their lives were in danger was proof of the existence of an Indian identity. The fact that India is not sub-divided into small countries after 1947 proves that our soul, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, is one. The real threat to India comes from greedy and over-ambitious politicians.

Dattaprasad N. Falari Mapusa, Goa

The essay was excellent. But I cannot understand why she is so terrified about India's nuclear explosion while the so-called developed nations have conducted more than 2,000 nuclear tests in all.

Although we have celebrated the golden jubilee of our Independence, we are not sure about the country's security. Until 1962 we did not have a war with China but it still happened in that year. Border problems with Pakistan and China are yet to be resolved. Another thing to be noted is that Pakistan also exploded bombs within three weeks of our nuclear tests. It is clear that Pakistan had an understanding with other countries in developing nuclear weapons even before Pokhran-II.

Is India, which attained freedom through non-violence, fostering violence? No. It has declared a moratorium on nuclear tests, and stands for total nuclear disarmament. It is developed nations like the U.S. which are not ready for that step.

The U.S., which speaks against terrorism, does not seem to have taken note of the type of terrorism abetted by Pakistan against India. But it attacked Sudan in the name of fighting terrorism. Can anyone convince India that it will never be subjected to such action?

India's nuclear weapons are not meant for violence. Their only purpose is self-defence.

Srikrishna Bhat Kothamangalam, Kerala ICHR

Rewriting history by distorting facts, whether done by rightists or leftists, needs to be condemned.

Yours being a pro-Left magazine, you have naturally exposed the role being played by the Sangh Parivar in rewriting history according to its ideology. Your magazine kept silent about the circular issued by the Left Front Government of West Bengal in 1989 laying down that negative references to Islamic rule in India should be removed from history textbooks. This in effect means that in history books there should be no reference to the destruction of temples by Islamic rulers, to the forcible conversion of Hindus, and to the numerous other restrictions which Hindus were subjected to. Is this not a deliberate falsification of history?

A.Viswanathan Mumbai

Correction: In the interview with A.P.J. Abdul Kalam ("A man and his mission", September 25) the name of the Executive Director of Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council, Y.S. Rajan, was erroneously printed as V.S. Rajan. The prime laboratory of the DRDO that was involved in the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme was the Defence Research and Development Laboratory, and not as mentioned. The errors are regretted.

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