India’s Two Front War
Whenever India has forgotten that it has two antagonists and let its guard down, it has paid dearly for it. Conversely, whenever India has accounted for the prospect of a possible threat from both quarters, it has done well. The two obvious examples are the 1962 and 1971 wars.
- In 1962, India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Defence Minister V.K. Krishna Menon had both believed that the threat to India’s security came principally from Pakistan.
- In 1971, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi took account of a possible Chinese move in support of Pakistan. India, therefore, took out an insurance policy in the form of the Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation between the Government of India and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
The mistake made earlier is instructive today
There has been an obsession concerning the threat from Pakistan, together with a degree of complacency vis-à-vis China, in part because the recent stand-offs in Depsang, Chumar, and Doklam were defused.
- The interactions between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping at Wuhan (April 2018) and Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu (October 2019) further blind-sided those involved in foreign and security policy planning in New Delhi.
- Although circumstances are different today, India continues to face the two-front conundrum.
Source: Continuing two-front conundrum (June 22, The Hindu)
Rajya Sabha’s Constitutional Role
The Council of States institutionalises the sharing of power between the Centre and the State under India’s federal structure.
- The House of the elders is also considered an exalted forum of scholarship and statesmanship.
- But this majesty has taken a beating due to factors, including but not limited to machinations that go into its making.
- The steady ingress of celebrities and business tycoons has not made a serious contribution to the Rajya Sabha’s working.
- The present government has demonstrated an aversion to deliberations of all types, and the Rajya Sabha has been a particular target.
- In a country as vast and diverse as India, deliberations are critical.
- The government has arbitrarily labelled bills as money bills to bypass scrutiny and passing by the Rajya Sabha.
- And some pieces of legislation with far-reaching effect on the country — to change the status of Jammu and Kashmir, for instance — have been pushed through both Houses.
- In such a scenario, it is imperative that members work across party lines to uphold Parliament’s constitutional role.
Source: Members as numbers (The Hindu/ June 23/Edit)
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Wild Animals In Urban Clusters
During these days of lockdown across various parts of India, we see reports of ‘wild’ animals coming over to the cities, towns and urban clusters.
To get a perspective of this, note that of the total land area of the world, which is about 510 million square km, 30% is desert and 24% mountainous, leaving us humans to occupy about 45-50% of the remaining area when we started to live as communities about 17,000 years ago. (Prior to that, humans lived in the wild, along with animals and plants, as hunter gatherers).
And over these millennia, particularly during the present one, we have built cities and urban clusters, thus making what was ‘wild’ land into ‘civilised’ land
Bethany Brookshire, who writes regular columns in Sciencenews.org, has written an article there on June 5, titled “Five reasons you might be seeing more wildlife during the COVID-19 pandemic”. These are:
- since restaurants are closed and trash collections have moved elsewhere, this ‘human handout’ causes rats and insects to invade towns in search of food;
- since there are not many humans and their pets are around, the fear that predatory animals and us, ‘super-predators’, are not there; this has caused the increase of wild animals in urban areas;
- common birds are not scared of us. We see and hear them chattering and singing. During the lockdown, it is nice and quiet and it appears that birds adjust their songs and the times they sing. (The ongoing study called The Sounds of the City supports this idea);
- the seasons play a role too. In the U.S., springtime occurs during March through May, and birds start migrating, snakes come out of hibernation and look for food and for mates. (In India, the seasonal farming starts around this time as well) and
- we ourselves are (finally) paying more attention to all these features during lockdown than at other times, and exchange all these observations through social media.
Source: The Hind (June 21)
Who Does Galwan Valley Belong To?
- The valley refers to the land that sits between steep mountains that buffet the Galwan River. The river has its source in Aksai Chin, on China’s side of the LAC, and it flows east to Ladakh, where it meets the Shyok river on India’s side of the LAC.
- The valley is strategically located between Ladakh in the west and Aksai Chin in the east, which is currently controlled by China as part of its Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
- At its western end are the Shyok river and the Darbuk-Shyok-Daulet Beg Oldie (DSDBO) road. Its eastern mouth lies not far from China’s vital Xinjiang Tibet road, now called the G219 highway.
- The LAC lies east of the confluence of the Galwan and Shyok rivers in the valley, up to which both India and China have been patrolling in recent years.
- After the June 15 clash, however, China has claimed the entire valley lies on its side of the LAC. Since early May, China has been objecting to India’s road construction activities at the western end of the valley, in the area between the Galwan-Shyok confluence and the LAC.
- Beijing is now saying the entire valley is on its side of the LAC, which pegs the line further west near the Shyok river. India has rejected the claim as “exaggerated and untenable”.
Source: The Hindu/Who does Galwan Valley belong to?/June 22