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Nepalese thorn to get worse for India

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New Delhi: Among the chattering diplomatic community of New Delhi, Nepalese Ambassador Deep Kumar Upadhyay is certainly one of the exceptions. A suave, but no nonsense personality, he is also known for his economy of words.

So when he asks India “not to press Nepal to the wall” as it seeks help from other countries, including China, the strategic threat to New Delhi looks close at hand. India has all along maintained that non-supply of essential commodities to Nepal is entirely due to agitation by the Madhesis and the janajatis (people of tribal origin) on the Nepalese side of the border. Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) personnel however confirm that at least till the third week of September, they had orders from above to intercept fuel shipments to Nepal.

Khadga Prasad Oli, the new Nepalese prime minister, represents the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist – Leninist), which is known for its virulent anti- India approach and, given this changed political scenario, Upadhyay’s threat does not look like an empty boast. Since the time of king Mahendra in the 1960s, Nepal has been using its position as a buffer between India and China but from New Delhi’s perspective, the situation has never been so worrisome as it is now.

This is because China has greatly increased its presence and influence in Nepal in the last decade, mainly through pecuniary help, financing of infrastructural projects and cultural programmes. It is even planning to dig a tunnel beneath Mount Everest for extending the Qinghai-Lhasa railway line to Kathmandu. This project is strategically important for China as it is now aiming to penetrate the economies of various South Asian countries.

For quite some time now, China has been breathing heavily down on India’s neck by its presence in Nepal and Bhutan and its influence on Kathmandu can be gauged from the fact that before the convening of the last Constituent Assembly, leaders of almost all political parties had gone to Beijing for confabulations.

For the present, we may leave aside the Everest tunnel question because its technical feasibility has been questioned even in China. It is undeniable that India is still far ahead of China in matters of investments and building up of projects in Nepal. But it is also true that China is catching up very fast. Beijing will invest $1.6 billion towards constructing a 750 MW hydropower project in West Seti. Another Chinese company is constructing a similar project in the Upper Tamakoshi region. Moreover, China is involved in the modernization of the Araniko highway which connects Kathmandu with the Chinese border near Kodari. Most importantly, Beijing will invest $20 million for upgrading the 17-km-long dirt track between Syaphrubesi and Kyirong (in Tibet). On the Chinese side of the border, Beijing has constructed Highway No.318 which leads to Lhasa and ultimately to Shanghai. This highway is not far off from either Kodari or Kyirong.

The focus of China’s internal and external policy has now shifted from its eastern seaboard to the interior part of the country encompassing Tibet, Quinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, Kunming and Xinjiang. Of them, Tibet occupies the central position due to its huge mineral and water resources. As Nepal has a long border with Tibet and more than 20,000 Tibetan refugees, China will never allow its growing hold on Nepal to slacken.

For this China is invading Nepal culturally too. Reversing an earlier trend, Nepalese students, particularly from the elite families are now going to China, instead of India, for higher studies. To facilitate the process, numerous China Study Centres have come up in Nepal, particularly in Kathmandu and in the Terai region bordering India.

But the agitating Madhesis and the janajatis also have reasons of their own. Their anger stems from the fact that 14 districts inhabited by them have been integrated with regions dominated by the hill people. It is a fact that the Madhesis constitute more than one-third of the country’s population. More than 70 percent of Nepal’s agricultural produce comes from their areas, which contribute 65 percent of Nepal’s gross domestic product and 76 percent of the country’s revenue – but they constitute only 9.9 percent of the gazetted-level government employees.

Prolonged unrest in the Terai region, with its long borders with India’s Bihar and Uttar Pradesh states, may help China to a great extent. Already armed fissiparous groups like the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MFJ), the Terai Cobra, the Nepal Defense Army and the like are operating in this area. China is known to be backing one faction of the MFJ. All of these groups have close ethnic identities with the people of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. If the situation goes out of control in the Terai belt, then China might also try to foment trouble on the Indian side of the border.

The going for India certainly seems to be rough.

(By Amitava Mukherjee, IANS)

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Nasscom Collaborates with Xuzhou to Develop IT Corridor in Eastern China

The two corridors paved the way for cooperation in emerging technologies such as AI, IoT and Analytics in the Chinese market.

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IT corridor, india-china
The new corridor will facilitate partnerships between Indian and Chinese firms as part of Nasscom's efforts to evangelise IT development in newer geographies. Pixabay

Indian IT apex body Nasscom on Friday said it has entered into a partnership with Xuzhou city in Jiangsu province to develop an IT corridor in eastern China.

“The partnership with Xuzhou is to help develop the software market and build the third IT corridor in Xuzhou after Dalian and Guiyang in the eastern China region,” the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) said in a statement here.

The new corridor will facilitate partnerships between Indian and Chinese firms as part of Nasscom’s efforts to evangelise IT development in newer geographies.

As the centre of the Huai Hai economic zone, Xuzhou is an important national transportation hub. One can reach major industrial and economic hubs like Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou, Nanjing and Suzhou within three hours by high speed train.

“Through the partnership, the platform will enable match-making between Indian firms and their counterparts in the Huai Hai economic zone, looking to adopt digital transformation from verticals such as manufacturing, retail, automotive, healthcare and utilities,” said the statement.

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“The partnership will create more jobs in Xuzhou and India, facilitating talent transfer between the two countries,” it said. Wikimedia

“The partnership will create more jobs in Xuzhou and India, facilitating talent transfer between the two countries,” it said.

The apex body had created opportunities for 300 Chinese firms in the region, where 10 Indian small and medium enterprise (SEMs) signed deals valued at $4.5 million (Rs 315 crore).

Initiatives in the first two IT corridors led to investment of $4.6 million (Rs 322 crore) in Dalian and $8.9 million (623 crore) in Guiyang.

The two corridors paved the way for cooperation in emerging technologies such as AI, IoT and Analytics in the Chinese market.

The China-India (Xuzhou) IT corridor project is an important step for the Indian software and service industry to enter “our market and seize the development opportunity of the Huai-hai Economic Zone”, said Xuzhou Municipal government Mayor Zhou Tiegen.

The corridor will inject momentum into the development of the Xuzhou software service outsourcing industry.

The Mayor hoped that Nasscom will bring its advantages on capital, talent and technology as per the agreement to improve the construction, operation and development of the park.

“The corridor will help strengthen China-India digital cooperation leveraging our respective strengths in hardware and software to build innovative products and solutions in the co-create mode,” said Nasscom Director Gagan Sabharwal in the statement.

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The China-India (Xuzhou) IT corridor project is an important step for the Indian software and service industry to enter “our market and seize the development opportunity of the Huai-hai Economic Zone”, said Xuzhou Municipal government Mayor Zhou Tiegen.
Wikimedia

As the eastern region is known for manufacturing capabilities, the apex body expects collaborative case studies emerging from the smart manufacturing domain.

“As the third collaboration, we hope the new corridor will act as a building block towards strengthening the India-Chinese relationship while we stimulate the ecosystem,” added Sabharwal.

India’s Consul General in Shanghai, Anil Kumar Rai, said that being a dominant manufacturing country, China required software, IT and IT-enabled services to transform into smart manufacturing.

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“The IT corridor at Xuzhou has the potential to fill the institutional void of software support for small and medium size industries in their language,” added Rai.

As the economic centre in the regional economic layout, Xuzhou is an industrial powerhouse, with several firms setting up their base in the city. (IANS)