A NON-COMMITTAL DONALD TRUMP MAY PUSH CHINA TO WORK WITH INDIA IN FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Global Times, one of the mouthpieces of China’s People’s Daily, the official newspaper and mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist party, has once again come up with a report appealing that India and China should work together to fight the climate change, especially after the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States.

The report says, “US President-elect Donald Trump said earlier in 2016 that climate change is just a very, very expensive form of tax” and has suggested that he is disinclined to commit to the Paris Climate Agreement. In light of this, China and India should play a much stronger leading role in the international effort against climate change.”

The report that focuses on the intense fog in Delhi and northern India and likens it to Chinese pollution and Beijing’s smog alerts, says that both, India and China, are the world’s top polluters and it is “meaningless to debate whose air quality is better”.

China is the world’s largest polluter and India ranks at number three behind America in emitting the greenhouse gases contributing to the global warming. In the world’s 20 most polluted cities, 10 are in India and four in China.

So, that makes sense, even if India and China differ on many issues and even if this official mouthpiece, Global Times, regularly comes up with articles and opinions suggesting why India should not be given the NSG membership or why India’s efforts towards a permanent membership of the UN Security Council are futile or why India should control anti-China content in its media or how the Chinese goods are being victimised by boycott calls in India.

Because climate change and the subsequent global warming will affect all, irrespective of who is the biggest culprit, America, the world’s most industrialised nation whose per capita emission at 19.86 tons is almost eight times to that of India’s 2.44 tons, or China, the largest emitter currently with over 25 per cent share of global emission while India is still at 7 per cent. Even China’s per capita emission is more than three times of India’s as per the figures of the World Resources Institute (WRI).

And because now there is a very real possibility that the world’s second largest emitter can walk away the landmark agreement. Donald Trump, during the campaign phase, had said in unequivocal terms that if elected, he would withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, adopted in December 2015 and came into effect the last month. Though, after his election, he had said in an interview that he had now an open mind about the Paris Climate Agreement, his stand is still viewed as being non-committal on the agreement that many believe is humanity’s last chance before environmental destruction becomes irreversible.

Most emitters in the top-10 list are advanced societies with less population like the US, Japan, Russia and the EU countries. They have technological superiority in the environmental protection techniques and can afford them, certainly a problem area when it comes to India and China, the world’s two economies in top three with over 36 per cent share of the world’s population. According to an estimate, 70 per cent of sewage generated by urban India goes untreated and advanced waste water treatment technologies are prohibitively expensive for the developing economies.

The Global Times report recognises this saying “China and India should encourage scientific institutions, environmental groups and firms to cooperate on research to develop environmentally friendly techniques that are tailored for both countries”.

Here are two burgeoning economies, buzzing with manufacturing, construction and energy industries, catering to an ever increasing demand of masses, and now they have to retain their emission levels and control pollution. And a collaboration in this area can show the way ahead like the “clean energy vehicle technologies and electric cars” as this article proposes. We all know that the vehicular pollution is the biggest contributor to the deadly smog that every now and then blankets our cities.

©SantoshChaubey

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INDIA’S HANDLING OF CHINESE DISSIDENTS’ VISA ISSUE: A BOTCHED-UP AFFAIR!

India has denied visa to three Chinese rights activists who were coming to India to participate in a conference that started yesterday in Dharamsala, the seat of the exiled Tibetan government in India.

The four-day conference, ‘Strengthening Our Alliance to Advance the Peoples’ Dream: Freedom, Justice, Equality and Peace’, has been organized by a US based pro-democracy outfit, ‘Citizen Power for China’, led by exiled Chinese rights activist Yang Jianli, and is being attended by some 100 delegates from around the world.

After the row over the visa denial issue and its global media coverage and a widespread outrage, the organizers of the conference have decided to say no to any sort of media coverage. Media has not been allowed to the venue. Participants would not talk to media about the conference. And there would be no press releases.

So, in a way, nothing would come out.

And that is, again a bad publicity for India, after the visa U-turn issue.

Because, as reports say, the conference is being attended by many Chinese dissidents whom China would go to any extent to see behind bars or execute, i.e., Tibetans, Uighurs, Falun Gong members and Taiwanese. The same was confirmed by Dolkun Isa, a Germany based Uighur dissident from China, with whom this whole visa U-turn row began.

An open media interface of the conference could have told the world that India was indeed right when it decided to cancel visa of Dolkun Isa, Lu Jinghua and Ray Wong on technical grounds and it was not under the Chinese pressure, as the message has gone, in India, and globally. Democracy is long dead in China and human rights are as flimsy as Chinese leaders’ promises for political reforms. A discussion on it in Dharamsala and its open media coverage would have helped dispel the notions that India bowed under Chinese pressure and cancelled visas. After all, it is not that no Chinese dissident is participating in the Dharamsala conference.

The coverage in international media, first on India granting visa to Dolkun Isa, against whom aC China influenced Interpol Red Corner Notice is out, and then withdrawing it in the 11th hour, is a testimony to that.

National and international media, which was praising India for issuing visa to Dolkun, drawing parallels with the Chinese veto in the United Nations on declaring Masood Azhar a terrorist, started mocking India when India cancelled Dolkun’s visa.

Though, on its part, India said it was on technical grounds, as Isa had applied for a tourist electronic visa whereas he was coming to attend a conference that requires additional clearance from the Home Ministry, and that India had taken this decision unilaterally and there was no Chinese hand in it, the same day, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement that said China indeed had approached India with its reservations on visa to Dolkun Isa.

To continue..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

DEMILITARIZING SIACHEN?

With the February 3 avalanche and with the passing away of Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad (or Hanumanthappa, the way you spell this brave son of Mother India’s name) today, another round of debate on ‘demilitarising’ Siachen has started intensifying.

Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit said today – “We strongly feel that the time has come to ensure that more lives are not lost due to harsh conditions in Siachen.”

He was referring to an idea (or a proposal) mooted by Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif at the UN General Assembly September last.

And he is not alone. In fact, whenever any tragedy happens in the Siachen area, such calls start making inroads, from India and Pakistan, but only to die down later – because India cannot trust Pakistan – because Pakistan cannot be trusted with its military’s aversion and hostility towards India – and because it has been a hard fought and won battle there at Siachen – with China still lording over the Aksai Chin region. Besides being rich in mineral resources, the whole Siachen region is also important to keep a keen eye on movements on Pakistani and Chinese sides and across Baltistan and Shaksgam valleys.

And because it is Pakistan that made the blue ice caps of Siachen a battlefield in 1984 triggering a response from India to retake what was its righty.

Before that, Siachen was serene and aesthetic – like its vast expanse of white snow and nature’s music – with the fact that avalanches are a reality of snow laden mountain caps across the world – before or after 1984.

Pakistan forced us to wade into that territory when it disturbed that calm.

And since then, it has been a continuous battle for survival for Indian soldiers there – putting efforts to be able to coexist with nature – and its fury for trespassing through this virgin territory.

In the last three decades, India has lost around 900 soldiers in Siachen, mostly in tragedies like avalanches or due to other threats of inclement weather. But over the years, we have learnt to live with nature there, minimizing loss of lives every passing year – with increasing scientific and defence prowess of India.

While Pakistan, the country that is in a poor strategic shape in the Siachen area, in fact being forced out to the lower hills on the other side of Siachen, continues to lose its civilians and soldiers in greater numbers with the huge 2012 loss that saw some 140 civilians and soldiers losing their lives in an avalanche.

While demilitarization of Siachen makes sense for India and Pakistan both, it’s almost like imperative for Pakistan – the country that began the whole Siachen war zone stuff – like it has disturbed peace and tranquillity in Jammu & Kashmir by exporting and supporting terrorism there since the late 1980s.

India incurs some Rs. 5 crore (less than a million) per day in keeping Siachen supplied – that is nothing when we see India’s defence budget, yes but it would be really tough for Pakistan, a much smaller economy with a flurry of domestic problems. We cannot how much it costs for Pakistan there.

Bur the cost involved here is the ‘human cost’.

And Indian soldiers like Hanamathappa and nine others who lost their lives in February 3 avalanche are ready to sacrifice here with the human cost involved – as long as India doesn’t get sure about Pakistani and Chinese designs. We have paid the price with some 900 lives and we cannot let that go – by trusting two treacherous neighbours – Pakistan and China – the countries that have been historical adversaries of India – and have backstabbed India multiple times.

India is seriously working to maintain good relations with Pakistan and China but while China’s economic concerns can be trusted, Pakistan’s mercurial Army, that has been traditionally and existentially anti-India, can never be trusted. And we all know it is the Pakistani Army, and not its political establishment, that decides which way the country would go.

The whole nation was praying for Hanamanthappa. The whole nation is in a state of shock and is paying tribute to the ten bravehearts who lost their lives in the avalanche.

To keep Siachen safe and in India’s control would be the best service we can do to them, like Bana Singh, the Siachen hero, who captured a strategic post from Pakistani in 1987 which was later renamed as ‘Bana Post’ in his honour, said (in a Hindustan Times report) – “It’s tough to survive there but the moral and strength of an Indian soldier keeps him going. Weather adversaries shouldn’t make us think of ever pulling out of Siachen”.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/