Dialogue  January-March, 2007, Volume 8  No. 3

Handling Terror and Conflict

Mufti Mohammed Sayeed was the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir upto the other day before he handed over his gaddi to Ghulam Nabi Azad. He was also the Home Minister of India during V.P. Singh ministry. The tradition of release of the terrorists for buying freedom of the persons captured by them was started during his Delhi tenure. Mufti knows fully well that security forces are deployed in his state because the State machinery is thoroughly incapable to handle terrorism. And yet, he wanted the Prime Minister to withdraw them from the civilian areas of the State. Mufti frequently talks of ‘healing touch’. Unfortunately, Kashmiri Pandits, for him, do not come in the sphere of the same. He has, perhaps, never proposed steps for their rehabilitation. Rather than short-sighted politics, all he and Mr Azad should do is to see that the (i) State Government develops the political will and capability to handle terrorism, and (ii) the hold of the non-secular forces is minimized in the valley. The Prime Minister did not concede his demand of troops withdrawal and Mufti had to return empty-handed. Azad was also against the army withdrawal.

In the North-East, violence and extortion continues unabated. In almost every State of the region, the development funds go to fill the coffers of the terrorist outfits. As reported, sixteen construction firms working in the N.C. Hills district of Assam as part of the railway gauge conversion project, on an average, pay over Rs. one crore per month to the militants to buy peace. The terrorist and extortion activities of DHD (J) acting on behest of NSCN(IM) continues and yet Government of India continues to talk peace with them. A section of the executive members of the now-defunct NC Hills Autonomous Council are hand in glove with the militants. The behaviour of a section of the politicians in other parts of the region is also not different.

It needs mention that ceasefire agreements and peace talks with the outfits indulging in or abating terrorism and extortion is counter-productive. The Government of India should stop talks with such outfits as it establishes their credibility in public eyes. There is also the need of transparency. The nation needs to be informed about any peace deal with theNSCN (IM) and other terrorist outfits.. The countries giving VIP treatment to Indian terrorists should be handled diplomatically. In absence of such steps, wrong signals go which confuses and weakens the nation.

India and East Asia

 For centuries India and East Asia – China, Japan and Korea - continued to have most cordial relations. They formed part of the same cultural continuum. There was absolute lack of bitter encounters. 1962 was, and we fondly hope it to be so in future too, to be an aberration. Our countrymen have soft feelings for the East Asians. There is a feeling that we ought to know more about them. This volume attempts to inform and educate us; it attempts to lead us a step towards our mental pilgrimage to East Asia.

India had varied experience during its encounter with different ethnic groups/nationalities. We had witnessed destruction of educational institutions, burning of libraries. China waged war for the books in Vietnam. They attacked Khotan for the Sutras. The Chinese monarchs maintained Translation Bureaus for translating Sanskrit books into Chinese language. The greatest contribution in this field was of a prince of Iran, who left his throne for his uncle, went to China, and spent his entire life for such noble work. The contributions of Indian and Central Asian scholars was equally commendable. Many of our Sanskrit books, which are no more available in this country, are available in their translations in Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan and other languages. We owe them a debt for the same. This country should have dedicated scholars of East Asian history and culture, their language and literature. This will help us in understanding our own history and culture, and shall doubly benefit us.

India, at the time of independence was favourably placed in comparison to China and other East Asian nations in the field of infrastructure and the production of essential commodities, the steel and cement. We had 53,600 kms of Railway network in 1952 China had 24,000 kms. China almost caught up India by more than doubling its achievement in 1976; it had 50,000 kms as against India’s 60,000 kms in that year. China far exceeded India in 2005; has 74,000 kms of Railway network against India’s 63,500 kms. China has constructed Railways even on the Tibetan plateau. The expansion is not only in terms of mileage, but efficiency also. The same is the case in other fields also. We had 14,000 kms of expressways and semi-expressways during 2005; China had 80,000 kms of the same. China produced 7.2 billion kwh electricity during 1952 as against India’s 7.5. China’s output was 2,187 billion kwh by the end of 2004, where as our electricity output at that time was only 680 billion kwh. The statistics in other fields also repeat the same story. The two countries started treading the path of economic liberalization but China had an early start (1978) and is far ahead of us in achievements in terms of GDP and FDI. The story in case of Japan and Korea, is also not different.

Although, Chinese economy continues to develop faster than India’s, all is not well with that country.. The demographic trends in China, like that in the Republic of Korea, have resulted into rapidly aging population and the declining labour force. It is observed that “China will grow old before it becomes rich while India will grow rich before it becomes old”. This is due to China’s one-child policy initiated in 1980. Another important factor is the longer stay of the younger generation in the educational institutions. China has also abolished child labour. Paradoxically, on one hand, there is labour shortage and the economy is absorbing migrant labour, and on the other, China faces the problem of unemployment, both of degree-holders and the others. In any way, China’s high economic growth is set to slow down in 2010 as the rising dependent population will cancel out its ‘demographic dividend’, enjoyed by it since the mid-1960s, as a World Bank report says.

A negative factor, however, in this case, needs mention that China is one of the most wasteful users of natural resources in the world. The fact was attested by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The Chinese Vice-Minister of Environment recently said: “To produce goods worth $10,000, we need seven times more resource than Japan…and, perhaps more embarrassing, three times more than India.” The Chinese used to be harsher on their labour-force to make their products market competitive. But there have been marked increase in wages in China. In India, the real wages in the manufacturing sector, rather declined, despite an increase in labour productivity, as a recent ILO report confirms. But in any way, India can not decide on this issue in isolation, ignoring the needs of its un-organised labour force and the population below the poverty line.

 It needs mention that the Chinese leadership is more pragmatic. They opened up their economy without removing the banner of communism. Last week, China’s National People’s Congress passed a law to protect private property rights. The East Asian economy, like India’s, is not free from leakage and corruption. But they have certainly superior work culture and there is much, which this country can learn from them. East Asian countries, unlike India, do not have lobbies and ideologies working against the interests of their own countries. Loyalty to the nation and its progress is supreme for them.

 A country like India may have bilateral relations with a large number of countries simultaneously. India’s relation/Understanding/MoU with any particular country, say, US or Japan or Australia, should not, and must not be viewed as a step against any other country, say China. Unfortunately, a section of our own intellectuals and media men never understand this basic fact. They create internal weaknesses from which the countries like China, Japan and US are free. Unusual statements preceding New Delhi visit of the Chinese dignitaries by highly placed Chinese officials, such as “Arunachal is a part of China” or “India was an aggressor during 1962” are cheap pressure tactics which make the visits ineffective. It is sad that the Chinese officials and a section of the Indian intellectuals/mediamen exhibit identical erratic behaviour. It is sad but true,that not only educated Indians, but even Chinese elite suffer from colonial hangover. China helped Pakistan, a country with strong fundamentalist base and fluid polity, in acquiring nuclear capability. This was in no way a mature behaviour. Any way, India should neither get disheartened nor enthuastic in its deals with China. It should endeavour to normalize its relation with that country with utmost patience. India should also work to strengthen its relationship with Japan and Korea.

 –B.B. Kumar


Dialogue A quarterly journal of Astha Bharati

Astha Bharati