This is Part-3 of an article on India China after Faceoff of June 15.

Read Part1, published on June 27,2020 with this title: Blaming PM Modi Now for “Surrender to China” is Nothing but Competing in Jingoism.

And part-2published on June 28,2020: Is it PM’s surrender to China ? Or is it subservience to US Strategy of Congress and others? 

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There are many blaming PM Modi today politicising the death of 20 soldiers, the first time in 45 years, on India China border. Congress is a major but not the only party indulging in the blame game. Even those in the Right wing, within the Sangh Parivar too, even top (former) military bosses  are blaming him, some openly, some not so openly.

It was unthinkable only a few months ago. They did not dare to do so. Some sedition cases would have been filed by now : But  jingoism is more powerful. The deaths of 20 soldiers, including one officer, on June 15 are being exploited to target Modi, relegating burning issues of life and livelihood.

Patriotism,mother land, territory, blood, martyrdom, traitors, betrayal etc are freely used in the jingoist media. But a little thinking on some basic questions is necessary before blaming Modi or anybody else.

Each life is precious as death is irreversible, we all agree. But are we caring when a sewerage worker or a coal miner dies while on duty? India sees so many deaths of theirs every year; are we calling them martyrs? Or so many deaths of doctors and nurses by corona? None of them expect death, nor is paid to face the risk of a death, unlike a soldier or an armed policeman who are paid for that. Are we taking their deaths equally as martyrdom?

Some are blaming, and some are valorizing death. Not only blaming for deaths, valorizing deaths is also jingoism. Jingoist media is playing up both these aspects, and both sides, of the June 15 deaths. Foreign and Defence policy are not, can not be, and should not be decided by deaths. Do we want China to decide its policy by 40 deaths Indian agencies reported on its side? It is not a film story full of revenge, as is being painted by jingoists on both sides.

But the US is waiting in the wings to fish in troubled waters. Part-2 of this article said:

He (Pompeo) speaks of a free world and a rule-based world made by NATO,the aggressor NATO alliance led by US that killed millions of civilians of several countries that are far away from US. He has the cheek to offer deep condolences to India, India alone; and to advise China to honor the rule of law and honor freedom and respect for sovereignty… And blames China for an incident, that occurred after 45 years, in which 20 Indians plus around 40 Chinese soldiers were killed.

It is worse than the devil quoting the scriptures for a US that bombed countries, Presidential Palaces, murdered Presidents, that killed millions of civilians, including lakhs of children and women, across the world in recent past, to advise China to honor the rule of law and honor freedom and respect for sovereignty.

Pompeo said that the CCP wants to undo all the progress the free world has made through institutions like the NATOand adopt a new set of rules and norms that accommodate Beijing.

South China Morning Post (SCMP), a leading independent media House of the Asia Pacific Region, reported on 23 Jun, 2020

At this critical moment, his decision to send Pompeo to Hawaii can only have been for one objective: to improve Trump’s chances of re-election…

Trump hopes to score points with American voters by being seen to be keeping “maximum pressure” on China, forcing concessions from Beijing, particularly in securing bigger commitments to purchase US goods, while continuing to suppress Chinese hi-tech companies, in particular Huawei

Thus US has its goals of Asia Pacific Strategy and Trump has his own political goals, and India is dragged into the US web.

Ignoring the big picture of peace and tranquility for 45 years along LAC, harping on June 15 deaths, by India, by BJP, and by Congress will only serve interests of US and not of India. Harping on Modi’s “surrender” to China is is only an alibi to further the cause of US imperialism.

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Are ruling classes really concerned about the soldiers’ deaths? The experience of Siachin

 

Passions are roused in the name of 20 deaths – martyrdom as they call it -as if we care for human life or even soldiers’ lives. Because public memory is short, and buried by 24×7 falsehood and half truths, it is necessary and useful to recall the experience of Siachin.

1100 Indian soldiers, including 87 officers, died “defending borders” in Siachin, most of them (90 %), without any clash. Thousands of crores of rupees were spent on it, but a stalemate continues there. The Big Media does not highlight it. They have no business in peace.

Let us see a brief account of Siachin:

We see a similar situation like LAC with China, in in Siachin, along LoC with Pakistan. Unlike the latest June 15 incident, blown up by the media, very few know, what is happening there.

It is an experience people should recall because the current episode along LAC will ultimately lead to a similar situation as in Siachin, which must be avoided. If a stalemate exists vis-a-vis a weaker and smaller Pakistan 35 years after Operation Meghdoot (1984), what can be expected in a conflict with China? It would be a no-win situation which is very costly, is a factor of further bleeding the economies. A win-win situation is there in peace and tranquility, which we had for decades along LAC.  . 

Not a bullet was fired there in Siachin since the ceasefire agreement of Nov 2003, there was no physical clash even, but nearly 200 died there since 2008, all because of the terrain, high altitudes and cold there. (18000 feet, up to minus 40 degrees) (thePrint 2019, Nov 19).

After ceasefire of Nov 2003, a tired Pakistan had proposed in 2012 demilitarizing the glacier. Many in India too did so. But Indian government said NO; it can not trust Pakistan. Neither UPA nor NDA agreed. What are the results?

Defence Ministers, both of NDA, revealed: Rajnath Singh, on June 3, 2019 said: More than 1100 Indian soldiers died in Siachin, “defending borders”, but none of them in a battle, after 2003. Nirmala Sitaraman earlier told Parliament that 163 soldiers including six officers died there in the last 10 years. ( Economic Times 2018 March, 21). If Pakistanis are added, more than 2000 died there.

What is the fate of the dead soldiers? 

In 2016 Feb, 10 Indian soldiers died, remained buried and untraced for days, under the snow of Siachin glacier, after an avalanche, not uncommon there. One of them, Lancenaik Hanumantappa Koppad from Karnataka, survived for 6 days under 35 feet of snow, found with feeble pulse, but died later in Delhi by multi-organ failure. Since Operation Meghdoot (1984) India lost 33 officers, 54 JCOs, and 782 jawans (Feb 4, 2016, Indian Express).

The huge costs

India spends about Rs. 5 crore per day just to maintain in Siachin, (as per an estimate of around 20 years old)… It spent over Rs 7500 cr merely for procuring clothing and mountaineering equipment.(Economic Times, Nov 20, 2019)

In spite of such human and monetary costs, Siachin remained a dispute between India and Pakistan, in the same vicinity of Aksai Chin, a dispute mentioned ever since 1949 Karachi Agreement that ended the first Indo-Pak war of 1947-48, and remained unresolved till now.Both spent billions of dollars over decades.

Lt Gen ML Chibber who executed the Operation of 1984 said 20 years later in 2004:

“Siachin does not haveany strategic significance ..The strategic importance being talked about is all invention.” Quoted by Dr.Happymon Jacob of JNU who published a book on related issues.

Control of it by India has no great strategic advantage, said  Strategist Brig Gurmeet Kanwal, Member of a Track-2 negotiating team on Siachin, who had supported de-miltarization, proposed by Pakistan.

Jacob explained there is no strategic advantage. His own view : Mostly symbolic and political advantage, not strategic or military.

(The Hindu, 2016 Feb 11)

For the the ruling classes and their parties, Congress and BJP in the main, with all their talk of patriotism and heroism, soldiers are mere cannon fodder for them.

Media openly discussed how Balakot, surgical strikes on Pakistan, helped BJP to save and boost its vote.If Rahul or his Congress think jingoism helps, sure it would help, but the ruling party, more so a rabid BJP. 

Defence Minister AK Antony of Congress had told parliament that India was having a meaningful dialog with Pakistan, which proposed de-militarization of Siachin. But nothing came of it; it was never seriously pursued.

But now in opposition, Congress talks in a belligerent manner.

They are blaming PM Modi of a surrender to China and making a fuss about 20 deaths on June 15. Why 20 only? They should know 24 soldiers died in 2011, 50 in 2010, 110 died in 5 years of UPA during 2009-13, in Siachin, while “defending borders”…with not a bullet fired there, as it was along LAC for 45 years.

At least 73 soldiers died in Siachin since 2014 during Modi-2 regime, without a bullet being fired: 56 during 2014 to 2017, 10 in 2018-19, and 7 in Jan 2019. No data available for 2020.They call them martyrs, but in practice they treat them as mere cannon fodder. See more about Siachin:  

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Pressures from USA, then and now : Media Role

How imperialism, more so the US, operates in developing countries, and manipulates war and peace to suit its own strategic and business interests needs to be understood. They grip the State, including its bureaucracy, armed forces and media, manipulate ruling as well as opposition parties and politicians, and force their policies on ruling politicians, even if they are reluctant on some occasions. Two-party system (in India it later became two-Front polity, NDA Vs UPA) is the hand maid of of ‘modern democracy’ operated by the imperialists.

They brand all others – various countries with different systems – who do not fall into this trap as opponents of democracy, and seek to de-stabilize them through moneybags, coups, regime changes, insurgencies, wars etc.Thus from China, to N. Korea, Cuba to Venezuela, Iran, Syria, even post-Soviet Russia, all are branded as evil powers.

Despite being a big country India too is subjected to pressures,  comprador business and media playing their own subordinate roles. To the extent there are divisions and contradictions among imperialists, they are also manifested through divisions and factions in the subordinate countries.

A few recent illustrations from India are given below:

How India comes and succumbs under pressures from super powers, presently from USA, can be understood from this latest “revelation” as reported by Republic TV:

General (Retd) JJ Singh , Former Chief of Army Staff during the UPA-I, told Republic TV on June 24,2020 :

“There was some pressure being built on the government of that time to settle the Siachen issue, it could be pressure from America who was close to Pakistan. Manmohan Singh’s team, which included Shyam Saran, the NSA and others, said we want to make Siachen ‘a mountain of peace’. It was a discussion in Delhi.”

General JJ Singh, in an “explosive revelation”, also said that the UPA government had asked him to be part of the discussion.He took the PM to Siachin, and convinced him of its strategic importance. Thus the idea of a compromise was dropped.

(opindia.com25 June, 2020)

Revelations mostly come out with a purpose, as now. JJ Singh and Republic TV wanted to show Congress – not BJP as alleged by Rahul – was bending under pressure, no doubt true. If US pressed for peace with Pakistan then, it has been aiding and abetting hostilities with China now: Even after PM Modi denied any intrusion by China, US agencies harped on aggression by China. And sabre-rattling is going on along LAC, Big Media flaring it up, despite mutual agreement and decision for de-escalation, and de-induction of troops, who had remained without fire-arms for years, again by mutual agreement.

Ruling class politicians of India have always been subservient to super powers of the day, US now, and serve their junior partners, the comprador big business back home. See this report:

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Jan 2007, in the annual general body meeting of FICCI, said about Pakistan policy:

“I earnestly hope relations between our two countries become so friendly and we generate such an atmosphere of trust… that the two nations will be able to agree on a treaty of peace, security and friendship..

He asked business leaders on both sides of the border to strengthen the hands of the political leadership to promote relations between the two countries.This is the third time since March 2005 that Singh has spoken of his vision for peace, and it comes days ahead of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s Islamabad visit.

Singh emphasised that political borders are no longer economic and social barriers in an increasingly globalised and integrated world.

“I dream of a day when, while retaining our respective national identities, one can have breakfast in Amritsar, lunch in Lahore and dinner in Kabul. That is how my forefathers lived. That is how I want our grandchildren to live.”

Suggesting that business could help governments break political barriers, he acknowledged FICCI’s efforts in setting up the India-Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries.

( hindustantimes.com,Jan 09, 2007)

That was Manmohan in power talking peace, while BJP in opposition had damned him. Now the roles are reversed.

Modi began his NDA-1 inauguration with guests from Pakistan; he had hifi mutual visits with them…But it came to no end.  Referring to Modi’s policies towards Pakistan, C Raja Mohan wrote :

Skeptics believe the pattern of dialogue-disruption-dialogue might simply persist… Modi, however, can break out of that vicious circle by changing the way India frames and conducts dialogue with Pakistan….

Break free from the mass media pressure that has repeatedly derailed India’s engagement with Pakistan.If the bureaucracy has choked the peace process with formalism,the media has turned every encounter between the two governments into a contest of gladiators.

C. Raja Mohan is a leading analyst of India’s foreign policy, an expert on South Asian security, great-power relations in Asia, and arms control C. Raja Mohan is also.

(carnegieindia.org, February 12, 2016)

 

Referring to pattern of dialogue-disruption-dialogue,  C.Raja Mohan advised PM Modi : Break free from the mass media pressure that has repeatedly derailed India’s engagement with Pakistan.

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Modi is under pressure; his China policy is sought to be derailed now 

The same applies to Modi’s China policy, which is sought to be derailed now. He is coming under US pressures, that are exponentially growing like the Corona virus, drummed up by the Big Media.

Modi’s ties with China, very good since his Gujarat days, are sought to be derailed. More than any other Indian PM, he visited China 5 times (apart from 4 times as CM of Gujarat),as PM he met Xi 18 times in sideline meetings, had informal summits in Wuhan and Mahabalipuram. He invited Xi Jinping to Gujarat  and Chennai for close one-to-one meetings.

And agreed, in October 2019, to celebrate 2020 as India-China Friendship Year to mark 70 years of their diplomatic relations that commenced in 1950 in Nehru regime, at a time when US had refused even to recognize People’s Republic of China. Modi of BJP agreed to celebrate it this whole year.

Trump said Xi jinping is ‘my friend’. He initially refused to blame China for the pandemic, said he did not know how China handled Corona, saying “I am not their auditor”, telephonically requested and obtained China’s urgent help to tackle corona in US.

India too did the same way. Even after corona pandemic commenced, India did not agree to call it China virus or Wuhan virus. It exported medicines to tackle corona epidemic in Wuhan, and later imported lakhs of test kits from China, both times facing bitter criticism.

As pointed out in Part-2 of this article, India held joint military exercises,every year until the 8th Edition in December 2019. It imported and was dependent on China for its bullet-proof shields until June 15, the day of clash.

Now suddenly the media is full of stories to paint China as India’s sworn enemy that can never be trusted!

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“Trump’s embrace ofModi stokes India China standoff”

How is it viewed by an outsider ?

Trump’s embrace of Mr Modi stokes India China standoff in Himalayas is the title of an article in UK’s Financial Times of June 9, 2020, much before June 15 incidents. It begins with these lines:

“New Delhi’s deepening alliance with Washington has alarmed Beijing and intensified border tensions”.

It says: “Simmering tensions between the Nuclear armed neighbors have been inflamed by the corona virus pandemic,Trump’s hostility towards China, and the US President’s strategic embrace of India and Mr Modi

Galwan valley of June 15 incident is similar, like Siachin, with high altitudes and sub-zero temperatures being common to both.

Indian polity and business is now badly divided on how to hadle China. Only a section of Business Houses supports Boycott China good campaign. Another section openly opposes it.

No war, even a war-like situation badly hits the economy, except war business. It would help BJP in Bihar, facing polls soon. Like prolonged corona and its anti-China politics, anti-China frenzy also is being promoted by US with India playing second fiddle.

This is sure to dash all hopes of an Asian Century, to the glee of USA. And war cries will help not only US Businesses, but it is hoped will help Trump’s re-election bid.

It harms India, its economy, and its people, who, the rulers hope, would be diverted from real pressing issues. This goes against the Modi-Xi agreement that differences should not be allowed to turn into disputes, upsetting all chances of economic revival, more so in these times of Corona havoc.   .

Ramakrishnan is a media person


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