Monday January 22, 2018
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Pick up plough, not guns-Why Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s advice is not right

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By Ishan Kukreti

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, known for his sound thinking and practicality, yesterday addressed a public gathering at Dantewada, hot bed of Naxalism in India. However the advise he gave to the tribals there was quite unreasonable, if not downright suicidal.

Making an emotional appeal to the tribals through their children, Modi said that shoulders of youth should bear ploughs, not gun.

A sound advice?

The intention of the honorable Prime Minister was to encourage tribals on the road to empowerment and development. Though, a question that invariably jumps to mind at this proposition is, why not a laptop, a pen or a book or anything that is at least viable to carry one’s life forward? Something that’d bring awareness and empowerment to the community which has remained on the fringes of the dialogue about development and growth in the nation.

Of agriculture, rebellion and suicides

Anybody who is a farmer or is aware of the current condition of India’s agrarian economy would have gawked at the advise. In the present times the gun and the plough have the same outcome, death, only difference being the nature of it.

In fact, data from National Crime Records Bureau and South Asia Terrorism Portal show that the death toll due to Naxal violence in India from 2008 to 2012 was 1419 while the number of farmer suicides during the same time was an incredulous 89,653.

Modi went as far as promising an investment of Rs. 24,000 crore in the region as a result of the MoUs signed in the Railways and steel sectors.

But…*Conditions applied

However, the PM failed to warn the tribals of Dantewada that this very investment and agriculture would mean nothing to the government if it decides to acquire the land to follow the same path of ‘development’, but for someone else. Tribals, though just 8% of the total population of India, account for more than 40% of the total development related displacement, according to a Planning Commission report.

The Land Acquisition ( Amendment) Bill, which the Modi government is so desperate to bring into action gives even more power to the state in pursuing its development agenda, disregarding any voice of dissent. Chhattisgarh being a mineral rich area has already seen development up close and personal not a happy, chirpy kind, but a displacing, uprooting kind.

Moreover, Modi didn’t tell the innocent tribals about the seasonal nature of agriculture, risks of unseasonal rains, crop failures and the reduction in subsidies including rural employment schemes like MGNREGA, by the government.

Narendra Modi, the powerhouse of economics

Narendra Modi’s sense of practicality and sound economic thinking has won him respect and honor in all the 16 countries he has visited in the last one year. Everyone has nothing but praises for the great Indian leader from Japan to the US.  Barack Obama has called him ‘ reformer-in-chief’ while the prestigious Time magazine has named Modi amongst top 100 influential leaders of the world.

Though, despite all these credentials, Modi’s suggestion of a road with an inevitable dead end in the name of ‘path to development’ says a lot about the lack or presence of genuine concern.

It is downright ironic that while the present state attitude towards agriculture is nothing but apathetic, the head of the state is egging people to take up a non-viable occupation.

 

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India China’s Fight Over the Doklam Plateau Explained

Doklam or Donglang, is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India

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picture from- indiaopines.com

By Ruchika Verma

  • India and China have an old history of disputes
  • This time, the dispute is regarding the Dokplam Plateau
  • The area is of strategic importance for both the nations

Disputes between India and China are not at all uncommon. The rivalry between the two nations is famous. There have been several disputes between the two on the India-China border in past, and there seems to be no stopping for these disputes in the present or future, for that matter.

India and China have a n old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com
India and China have an old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com

In June 2017, the world witnessed yet another dispute arising between India and China. This time the dispute was about China building a road extending to Doklam Plateau, which both nations have been fighting over for years now.

Also Read: China is likely to get involved if India disrupts $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

History of the dispute 

Doklam or Donglang (in Chinese), is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India. India doesn’t directly claim the area but supports Bhutan’s claims on it.

India fits into the picture, as this plateau is an important area for India. Not only is Bhutan one of the biggest allies of India; China gaining access over the Doklam Plateau will also endanger India’s borders, making them vulnerable to attacks.

Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan's borders.
Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan’s borders.

Apart from the hostile history of the two nations, the Doklam Plateau is also important for India to maintain its control over a land corridor that connects to its remote northeastern States. China building a road through Doklam surely threatens that control.

A complete timeline of what happened in the recent Doklam Standoff 

On 16 June 2017, Chinese troops with construction vehicles and excavators began extending an existing road southward on the Doklam plateau, near India’s border. It was Bhutan which raised the alarm for India.

On 18 June 2017, India responded by sending around 270 Indian troops, with weapons and two bulldozers to evict the Chinese troops from Doklam.

On 29 June 2017, Bhutan protested against the construction of a road in the disputed territory.  According to the Bhutanese government, China attempted to extend a road in an area which is shared both Bhutan and India, along with China.

Between 30 June 2017 and 5 July 2017, China released multiple statements justifying their claim over the Doklam plateau. They cited reasons as to why the Doklam standoff wasn’t really needed. And how China has not intruded into India’s territory to incite the standoff.

On 19th July 2017, China asked India again to withdraw its troops from the Doklam. On 24th July 2017,  Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in his statement, asked India to withdraw and behave themselves to maintain peace.

India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC
India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC

Also Read: Why India Must Counter China’s High-Altitude Land Grab?

What followed till 16th August 2017 was China constantly alleging India of trying to create trouble. They accused India of trying to disturb the peace and not withdrawing the troops, even after repeated reminders. They also accused India of bullying.

India, however, kept quiet during the whole fiasco, only releasing a statement regarding their stand and position at the Doklam standoff.

On 28 August 2017, India and China finally announced that they had agreed to pull their troops back from the Doklam standoff. The withdrawal was completed on that very day.

On 7 September 2017, many media reports claimed that both nation’s troops have not left the site completely. They were still patrolling the area, simply having moved 150 meters away from their previous position.

On 9 October 2017, China announced that it is ready to maintain peace with India at the frontiers. India reacted in affirmative, the peace was established when Indian Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman’s visited Nathu La.

The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay
The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay

The Doklam issue, for now, is resolved. However, given the history of disputes between India and China, it won’t be a surprise if the issue resurfaces again in near future.