Dialogue  July-September  2009, Volume 11 No.1


Editorial Perspective


India’s Neighbours

India’s relationship with most of its neighbours is not desirably cordial. We have diplomatic links; lack friendship. In many cases, we lack honesty and courage of conviction to take a stand. At occasions, the compulsions of domestic politics prevents us from telling the truth about our adversaries. Propaganda prevails over history and facts.  

     Pakistan’s politico-ideological orientation is anti-India and anti-Hindu. That country is constantly striving to create, promote and strengthen enemy image for the Indian nation and the society. Jihad and martyrdom are parts of the curriculum of not only madrassahs, but also of the government-sponsored/sate-aided schools. The continental drift is promoted through schooling.  Pakistani state machinery is involved in subversion in India through ISI promoted activities. Indian economy is subverted by massive printing and pushing of fake currency notes in India. Pakistani state-inspired ideological choices have promoted terrorism in that country and in India. There are many other irritants also coming in the way of smooth Indo-Pak relations. Pakistan, on one hand wants to have peace-talks with India; on the other hand, as reported, the number of Pakistani infiltrators of the age-group of 18-30 owing allegiance to banned Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) has considerably increased during recent 2-3 months. It talks of the Kashmir dispute, but forgets that Pak-occupied Kashmir, Northern Areas and Gilgit also were parts of Jammu & Kashmir. It ceded parts of Ladakh to China. And now, Pak and China have inked hydropower deal including the one in Bunji in Pak-occupied Northern Areas

     The Indo-Bangladesh relation is also not satisfactory, as that country is pushing millions of its citizens to this side of the border. The real motive of such demographic aggression is to grab parts of this country for achieving greater Bangladesh. Bangladesh is the only country in the world, which declares its own citizens as enemies and robs their property. Of late, Maoists have become strong in the politics of Nepal and they never hide their anti-India agenda.

     China keeps some part of Ladakh under its illegal occupation; claims Arunachal Pradesh (now calling it South Tibet). The Chinese are constructing Gwadar port in western Pakistan, a commercial port complex in south Sri Lanka and have their presence in southern Myanmar and Chittagong. They are actively pursuing the policy of encircling India; developing strategic and economic deep ties with this country’s adversaries. It needs mention that in the past China trained and provided arms to Indian insurgents. Paresh Barua of ULFA, as reported is taking shelter there. Not only that. China opposed the declaration of Lashkar-e-Tayyeba as a terrorist organization by the Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council and is doing the same in the case of Jaish-e-Mohammad.

     A recent article by a Beijing strategist, Zhan Lue, published in Chinese language, captioned “If China takes a little action, the so called Great Indian Federation may be broken up” appeared in China on the host site based in Beijing, two weeks ago. (Zhong Guo Zhan Lue Gang, Chinese, 8 August 2009). It advised China to help divide India. The Chennai Centre for China Studies, whose director, D.S. Rajan, is a well-known sinologist and expert on Chinese language brought out the contents of the same in his web-site.(http://.www.c3sindia.org/india/719; August 9, 2009). Certain facts brought to light therein were:

     “…to split India, China can bring into its fold countries like Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan, support ULFA in attaining its goal for Assam’s independence, back aspirations of Indian nationalities like Tamils and Nagas, encourage Bangladesh to give a push to the independence of West Bengal and lastly recover the 90000 sq. km. territory in Southern Tibet.”

      It further said: “Wishing for India’s break-up into 20-30 nation-states like in Europe, the article has concluded by saying that if the consciousness of the nationalities in India could be aroused, social reforms in South Asia can be achieved, the caste system can be eradicated and the region can march along the road to prosperity.”

     This should be viewed in the light of the (i) Chinese behaviour towards India during the last six decades; (ii) China’s strategic capacitity building; and (iii) China’s attempts to encircle India.

     The 2006 Chinese White Paper on defence speaks of a perspective roadmap of China’s achieving the super-power status in three stages: (i) the first stage envisaged developing a modern force by 2010 capable of defeating a moderate sized adversary, namely, Taiwan, India or Vietnam; (ii) the second stage aims at catching up with second tier world powers like Russia, Europe and Japan by the year 2020. (iii) The country, in the third stage, aims at achieving the super-power status on par with the US by the year 2050. It may be mentioned that China has already achieved the target fixed for the first stage.

     The Chinese, for the last two decades, have been holding massive annual military exercises. This had the dual purpose of (i) rehearsing their projected amphibious assault on Taiwan and (ii) for posturing of military force for intimidation, what Sun Tzu in his Art of War called Zaoshi. The latest military manoeuvres and posturings differ in many ways from the earlier ones, which are (i) its greater scale; (ii) the change in area and likely target; and (iii) massive increase in the Chinese military capabilities. China’s largest round of military manoeuvres (code-named Kuayue; stride) planned later this year for two months shall involve 60,000 vehicles operating in an area of 50,000 sq. km. Earlier on April 23-25 this year, China in its Naval Exposition, exhibited its naval capacity. The same is going to be done by their Air Force during November 2009. The testing of the Chinese anti-satellite rocket in 2007 was a real breakthrough.

     As the projected area of operation of the Kuayue exercise is supposed to be South China Sea, the likely ‘target’ seems to be Vietnam, rather than Taiwan. It needs mention that China has dispute with Vietnam on Spratley Islands and the Vietnamese oil exploration sites in the South China Sea and the China warned India’s ONGC against the oil exploration in the Vietnamese Dai Hong oil fields. In this case, two factors seem to bring such change. Firstly, China’s relationship with Taiwan under Ma Ying Jeou government has considerably improved. The Chinese government has made a suggestion to remove some of the 1300 missiles deployed against Taiwan after implementation of military confidence measures. Secondly, China respects and fears military might and may not like to invite conflict with super-power US by invading Taiwan. Massive Taiwanese capital investment in mainland China is an added factor due to which China may try to avoid confronting Taiwan. It needs mention that the two Taiwan Strait crises by China were only created to secure nuclear technology from Russia and not for grabbing Taiwan. Of course, the Chinese reaction of Taiwan’s latest move of inviting Dalai Lama is yet to be seen. . 

     Mao’s longing for the atom bomb continued ever since the US dropped the same on Hiroshima in 1945. The US president Eisenhower, in his State of the Union address on 2 February 1953, suggested that he might use the atom bomb on China. The threat, rather than frightening Mao, was music to his ears, as it gave an excuse to ask Stalin for the nuclear weapons, which he desired most. Mao, just after Eisenhower’s statement, taking advantage of the Russia’s mutual defence pact with his country, dispatched Qian Sanqiang, China’s top nuclear scientist to Moscow to convey to the Stalin to give him nuclear bomb to enable Russia to avoid being drawn into a nuclear war with the US. Stalin was in no mood to help China and decided to end Korean War. However, he had stroke soon after and died. A factor responsible for the stroke is said to be Mao himself. The new Russian leadership, under Premier Georgi Malenkov, conveyed to Chou Enlai their decision to end Korean War. They declined to transfer nuclear technology to China. Keen to ease tension with the West, they wanted to reward China with a large number (total 91) of arms enterprises, if Mao co-operated in stoppage of war. Mao was, however, not satisfied; he wanted the nuclear bomb. The opportunity came soon after, when in June 1957, Molotov, Malenkov and a group of old Stalinists wanted to dislodge Khrushchev and he needed Mao’s help and agreed to provide nuclear technology as a price. Yet another opportunity came for Mao. The greatest Communist Summit of the world was to be held on 7 November 1957 to mark the 40th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution and Moscow needed Mao to be on the board to enable the summit to go smoothly. Mao, as a price, asked for the renegotiation of the technology transfer agreement before the summit. The deal was signed on 10 October 1957;

     According to the deal, Moscow agreed to provide Mao with a sample Atom-bomb and the Russian ministries were instructed to supply the Chinese whatever they required to build their bomb. Yevgenii Vorobyov, a top Russian nuclear scientist, was deputed to supervise the construction of Chinese bomb, over-ruling the objection raised by Igor Kurchatov, the ‘father of the Russian bomb. The number of Chinese nuclear scientists under his supervision increased from 60 to 6,000. China received two R-2 short-range ground to ground missiles also. The Chinese copied the same. As reported, the number of missile experts transferred to China was very large.

     In June 1958, Mao asked for technology and equipment to manufacture nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers. He created second Taiwan Strait crisis by heavy shelling of Quemoy Island. This was the same strategic technique to twist the arms of its ally, USSR, as was done in 1954-55 during first Taiwan Strait crisis to secure Atom-bomb from Russia. The end result of this second crisis was the signing of a high-end technology deal on 4 February 1958 by which Khrushchev agreed to transfer the whole range of equipments needed for A-bomb delivery. Strangely, the heavy costly shelling of the rocky island of Quemoy continued for 20 years and the Army Chief of Staff, who opposed it, was accused to be of ‘right wing’ and removed by Mao.  The shelling continued till the establishment of diplomatic relations between US and China and ended on New Year’s Day 1979 after Mao died. In reality, the Nixon’s visit of China in February 1972 was the beginning of a new chapter in Chinese diplomacy.

     Millions of Chinese died of hunger at the altar of Mao’s Megalomania. It needs mention that over 70 million Chinese died during 27 years of Mao’s rule due to his insensitivity towards human sufferings. Food was squeezed out of the starving farmers for paying the cost of bombs etc. and also for industrial purpose. 4.74 million tons of grain, costing US$ 935 million was exported in 1959. Other foods, especially pork, were also exported. It needs mention that Chinese bomb was estimated to cost US$4.1 billion at 1957 price-level. This was enough to provide enough wheat to every Chinese for two years to provide each of them extra 300 calories and thereby save the life of about 38 million Chinese, who died due to starvation.

    As mentioned above, China became an Atomic power due to technology transfer from Russia. But the source dried up soon after an incident in September 1958. A US air-to-air Sidewinder missile came down over Chinese territory unexploded from a Taiwanese plane. Khrushchev’s urgent request to have it for examination remained unanswered. After long wait, the Chinese reply was that they could not find it. As was expected, the technological development in China in this field slowed down and the country could manufacture its first ICBM only in 1980 after years of death of Mao.                          

     Americans had China lovers like Alex Ackstein, but only an American President like Nixon and Kissinger could consider the possibility of helping China, the way Jung Chang and Jon Halliday has written in their book, Mao: The Unknown Story (p. 716):                     

      “Kissinger told the Chinese on 6 July that he has set up ‘a very secret group of four or five of the best officers I can find’ to study what US could do. Among the scenarios considered was airlifting American nuclear artillery shells and battlefield nuclear missiles to Chinese forces in the event of war. The only practical option the group recommended was to ferry American tactical bombers into China loaded with nuclear weapons, and launch nuclear attacks on Soviet forces from Chinese airfields.”

      Mao had an eye on American military know-how and the US wanted to help in a strange and unexpected way. Jung Chang and Halliday has quoted what Kissinger conveyed to Mao’s envoy:

     “I have talked to the French Foreign Minister about our interest in strengthening PRC (Communist China). We will do what we can to encourage our allies to speed up requests they receive from you on items for Chinese defence.

     In particular, you have asked for Rolls Royce (engine) technology. Under existing regulations, we have to oppose this, but we have worked out a procedure with the British where they will go ahead anyway. We will take a formal position in opposition, but only that. Don’t be confused by what we do publicly…”

     This was an example of American double-dealing. As was the case, Mao’s China was befriending US; it was asking for an anti-Soviet coalition, an alliance, between US, Japan, China, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Europe, under the leadership of America; It was declaring Hanoi as the common enemy of both the US and the China; while outwardly keeping an anti-American posture. The Chinese wanted an alliance and even the ‘Chinese military help’ against India during Bangladesh war in December 1971. Transfer of nuclear and missile technology to Pakisatan by China and North Korea was safely ignored by US, UK and others.

     The situation described above is not a happy one when we find that China’s military modernization programme runs ahead of the schedule, whereas India’s military modernization process is at least a decade behind the schedule. China acquires technology; India chases the obsolete ones by trying to develop the same. There is need to strike a balance between acquiring and developing defence technology. Political interference should not be allowed in the defence matters. We have the ‘Bofors’ case before us. The country needed the gun, and it needed it badly. We were to procure it anyway and to settle the corruption issue, if any, separately. Clearly, the nation needs broad policy initiative in defence matters, as India is always the target, either direct or through proxy. In any way there is no need to be panicky, nor allow complacence.


Education: Endless Experimentations and the Unholy Haste

      Shri Kapil Sibal, Union HRD minister is in a hurry. Due to his efforts, the Right to Education Bill (REB) has been passed. At least HRD ministry has done something within 100 days of the second UPA government coming to power. The “Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2009” passed in the Lok Sabha is certainly going to help the children of the age-group of six to 14. The Rajya Sabha cleared it earlier. Shri Sibal must be thanked for getting it through, though there is enough scope to bring improvement in the provisions of the same.

      The attention of the nation for the need and the demand of the free or subsidized compulsory primary education have been voiced from time to time starting from the period of the drafting of the Constitution itself some six decades earlier when it was included in the ‘directive principles of state policy’, to its change into the ‘fundamental right’ through a constitutional amendment in 2002 to ultimately the passage of the present bill in 2009. The journey and the wait for the same have been long and tedious. There are inherent weaknesses as Shri Sibal and the ministry have not done the home-work properly and have failed to work out every detail before taking the plunge. The States have not been properly consulted ignoring firstly the fact that education is included in the concurrent list; and secondly, that without their active participation, the scheme may not succeed. The Bill and the related issues have not been adequately discussed in the Parliament. Sadly enough, the matter was not discussed even in CABE (Central Advisory Board for Education).

      The basic problem before the nation is to provide quality education to all. The difficulty comes as all the schools do not maintain the same standard. This problem needs to be tackled. A way out is possible by raising the standard and bringing the qualitative functioning of the schools at the comparable level. But the question is: how to cope up with the inefficiency of the Central and State’s HRD departments in effectively running their educational institutions? Statistically speaking, institutions under private management suffer from resource crunch and infrastructural deficiencies and yet they run the institutions more efficiently. The problem is how to bridge the considerable gap between government and private schools? Obviously, there may be two ways: (i) by bringing up the quality of functioning of the government schools, (ii) by pulling down the quality of education of the private schools. Should we then achieve level in education by raising the standard of government schools or by lowering that of the private ones? Sadly, the government is going to follow the second course by transferring the economic burden on hard-passed lower middle class families by planning to force private schools 25% reserved seats free to the poor. It will have the undesired impact of (i) creating resource crunch for already suffering private schools; (ii) shall have adverse impact on the domestic economy of the already hard-pressed lower middle class families as the school may transfer part or whole of the burden on them; (iii) create tension between school management and section of the parents; and lastly (iv) the same old game of providing leverage to corrupt bureaucrats and politicians in the field of education. The questions may be asked as to why the better performing institutions be punished? Why entrepreneurship in education be discouraged? The govt. is incapable of running the schools efficiently. Why the governments, which are incapable of running their own schools efficiently, be allowed to spoil private schools or subject them to corrupt pressurization?

   There are certain desirables, which the Central and the State governments must fulfil. The schemes of Neighbourhood Schools and Common School system should be implemented only after proper survey and government endeavours. There should be minimum, and if possible absolutely no interference in matters of admission and day to day running of the privately managed institution. The families should be economically empowered to enable them to send their children to schools. The practice of giving doles and thereby insulting the entire society should be stopped. The corruption involved in khichari feeding (mid-day meal) scheme has been amply reported. The government should deposit the sum in the bank a/c of the students, rather than funding the schools for the same. It is essential to cut red-tape and to avoid scope of undue interference by the politicians and the bureaucracy.  There should not be any political party member in the school GB; rather educationists should take their place.

                                                                                                                                                          - B.B. Kumar


 Dialogue A quarterly journal of Astha Bharati

Astha Bharati