Pressure-cookerconditions in U.S. politics due to an imminent election
Glimmer of hope
Foreign Ministers of India & China met at Moscow
It provides a glimmer of hope of a diplomatic solution
Each point, outlined in a joint statement, has been affirmed previously by the two neighbours, both in past boundary agreements and in talks held since June that have failed to de-escalate tensions.
Tense LAC -worst crisis since 1962
2017 formulation: “not allowing differences to become disputes”
Both sides said they would
Abide by all existing agreements
Expedite work on finding confidence building measures to maintain peace
Key question: return to the status quo ante prior
The issuing of the joint statement was somewhat unusually accompanied by separate press statements, which struck discordant notes on key issues.
India: peace on the boundary was essential for ties
The Chinese statement, on the other hand, sought to emphasise the importance of “moving the relationship in the right direction” and to put the border “in a proper context”.
China’s statement also quoted India’s Foreign Minister as saying India believed China’s policy toward India had not changed and that it did not consider relations to be dependent on the settlement of the boundary question.
This characterisation of India’s stand was a sharp contrast from Delhi’s recent public statements, which have emphasised border peace as a prerequisite to taking forward the broader relationship.
China’s official news agency: “reckless provocations” | “to learn from history” | “will not lose an inch of territory”
Thursday’s consensus: It is welcome that India and China have finally found something to agree on.
Though, it is only the first step of a long road ahead.
India will need to verify before it can trust each of China’s steps from now on.
Smothering the housing rights of the urban poor
August 31 - Supreme Court - removal of about 48,000 slum dwellings situated along the railway tracks in Delhi.
A three-judgeBench headed by Justice Arun Mishra – remove it in three months - “no Court shall grant any stay with respect to removal of the encroachments” - “that shall not be effective”
This order is deeply disturbing and raises serious legalquestions.
The order violates principles of natural justice - without hearing the jhuggi dwellers
The order was passed in the long-running case, M.C. Mehta vs. Union of India & Ors., regarding pollution in Delhi and was in response to a report by Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority for the National Capital Region on the piling up of garbage along railway tracks.
The Court ignored its long-standing jurisprudence on the right to livelihood and shelter upheld in various judgments.
Olga Tellis & Ors vs. Bombay Municipal Corporation & Ors. (1985): no eviction shall take place without notice and hearing those affected
Further, in Chameli Singh vs. State Of U.P. (1995), the Supreme Court recognised the “right to shelter” as a component of the right to life under Article 21 and freedom of movement under Article 19(1)(e).
UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing has called on member-states to declare an end to forced evictions.
Over the last three years, over five lakh people have been evicted, most often for various “city beautification” projects.
The promise of the right to housing offered by Sudama Singh and Ajay Maken is now being undone by an insidious and legally dubious order that pre-empts other courts from giving orders to stop the eviction.
The Court disdainfully refers to how “political interference” does not allow “encroachments” to be evicted.
However, it is often through such political negotiations that residents of informal settlements incrementally make claims on housing and exercise their “Right to the City”.
A game of chess in the Himalayas
Is 2020 another 1962?
Future is uncertain, present is undoubtedly tense
S. Jaishankar: this is “surely the most serious situation” along the India-China border “after 1962”.
August 1959: first border clash between Indian and Chinese troops in Longju.
Both sides accuse each other of opening fire.
Both sides blame each other for the current stand-off.
When the Longju incident happened, not many in India might have thought the border tensions would lead to a full-scale Chinese invasion.
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Defence Minister V.K. Krishna Menon were absolutely certain that China would not attack India.
Nehru saw both countries as victims of imperialism and the natural leaders of Asia.
India accepted Chinese sovereignty over Tibet and signed an agreement with Peking over trade with Tibet.
But what Nehru hoped in return for India’s friendship was China respecting its bequeathed boundaries — the McMahon Line in the east and the frontier (based on the 1842 Tibet-Kashmir agreement) in the west.
Nehru was wrong.
Within two months, an Indian police patrol team in Kongla Pass in Ladakh came under Chinese attack. This was a wake-up call for Nehru.
He asked Chinese troops to withdraw from Longju in return for an assurance from India not to reoccupy the area and proposed that both sides pull back from the disputed Aksai Chin, where China had already built (unilaterally) a strategic highway.
China rejected this proposal and made a counter offer — to recognise the McMahon Line in the east in return for India’s recognition of Chinese sovereignty over Aksai Chin.
Nehru, having checked the historical maps, documents, including revenue records and land surveys, which he got from the India Office in London, rejected the Chinese offer because he thought it would mean India abandoning its legitimate claims over Aksai Chin.
After the collapse of the Nehru-ZhouEnlai [Chou en Lai] talks in 1960 in Delhi, tensions escalated fast.
China intensified patrolling along the border.
In November 1961, Nehru ordered his Forward Policy as part of which India set up patrol posts along the LAC, which was seen as a provocation in Beijing.
In October 1962, Mao Zedong ordered the invasion.
And unlike in 1962, when India was not politically and militarily prepared for a war with China, today’s conflict is between two nuclear powers.
Despite the volatile situation, an uneasy truce prevailed on the border at least since 1975 and both sides have made improvements in ties since Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to Beijing in 1988.
This period of truce allowed both countries to focus on their development.
“STRATEGIC DOMINANCE” the strategy which would yield positive outcomes, irrespective of the strategies of the rival player.
The question is whether INDIA should walk into the trap laid in the Himalayas, or learn from the experiences of 1962.
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