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Home > 2020 > LETTER TO THE READERS, 13 June - COVID 19 Lockdown Edition No.12

Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 26, New Delhi, June 13, 2020

LETTER TO THE READERS, 13 June - COVID 19 Lockdown Edition No.12

Saturday 13 June 2020

Letter to Readers Mainstream, 13 June 2020 - Lockdown Edition no 12

The Govt. of India has kept citizens in the dark about large-scale entry of Chinese troops into Indian territory inside Ladakh. The otherwise very jingoistic govt which leaves no opportunity go by to make noises of war vis a vis Pakistan has been totally silent about China. The Modi govt probably feared a political fallout so it has kept mum. Some rare media reports revealed details of the scale – about 10,000 regular Chinese troops had entered a part of Ladakh since later April 2020, the Indians took time but responded slowly by deploying nearly equal numbers. Some knowledgeable former military officials see this as part of the recurring cycle of incursions and clashes on the India-China border –“We seem to have fallen into a familiar pattern: the Chinese actions catch us by surprise, both at the strategic and the tactical level; we react with a much higher force level; the exact place and the extent of the intrusion is never formally acknowledged; the outcomes of the military and diplomatic engagements and concessions meted out are not put out in public domain; and without learning any lesson, we repeat the entire process when the next crisis occurs. In the last seven years the same pattern was repeated at Depsang 2013, Chumar 2014, Doklam 2017 and also now in eastern Ladakh.”- says Lt. Gen Panag (see: https://theprint.in/opinion/pm-modis-silence-on-lac-stand-off-is-benefiting-china-india-must-change-its-script/439423/) and some senior commentators talk of the rationale behind Chinese intervention in Ladakh as connected to the dissolution of article 370 in Jammu Kashmir and its reconfiguration into two Union Territories managed by the centre.

Few know that in 1982-83 the Chinese leadership was interested in resolving the border row, but that did not work out due to the machinations of some foreign service elements in South Block. When Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi went to China in the late 1980s he was given a rousing welcome and there were prospects that this would be followed up by extensive border negotiations but that unfortunately did not materalise. Later, during Prime Minister Narasimha Rao’s visit to China in 1993 there were very positive signs that the two countries could move fast towards a resolution of the border problem but it seems the officialdom on either side blocked matters. (However the Rao visit helped come out with a bilateral agreement for ensuring peace and tranquillity on the border). But decades on India has tilted very close to the US administration which has been egging New Delhi to join an anti-China axis. China of today is a far bigger power economically and militarily. India must continue to use every diplomatic avenue to resolve the border question with China, it cannot afford to go to war nor call for any sort of economic boycott.

The Modi Government must break the silence and take Parliament into confidence about what has happened in Ladakh.

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The new Israeli government has plans to take over large parts of Palestinian West Bank, which had once been militarily occupied in 1967. There is already a long history of appropriation of lands from this area through the forced displacement of Palestinians and the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The coming Israeli annexation of the Palestinian territory of West Bank, would endanger peace in the region; Jordon its immediate neighbour has announced that it will break off a peace agreement with Israel if it takes over west bank territories. Post independent India always stood up for the Palestinians and it is time for it to re-iterate its solidarity with Palestinians and oppose any plans by Israel to take over Palestinian lands. Failure by India to speak firmly at International Forum against any forced takeover of Palestinian territories will damage its standing across Africa and the Middle East.

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Resistance to racism and police violence in the US and continues to have an echo Europe, notably in UK, Belgium, the Netherlands and France – all former colonial powers; In the wake of anti-racist demonstrations, the monuments of figures of the slave trade have been targeted and pulled down as inadmissible symbols. There is a sort of instant justice at work here by an impatient public. You cannot resolve the wrongs of history of colonization, slave trade, de-colonisation in one stroke. When history waves a national flag, it always tells a partisan story not necessarily a true one. The dominant figures, the notables of an epoch, not always the nice guys get credo and recognition, yes the past is murky. Governments honour their generals and leaders and figures from dominant elites and create symbols of national history as a source of self-justification. The possibility that history might offer a warning as happened in Germany is nonexistent here. The statues, road-names, city names from the past should not be demolished and changed. We cannot erase history however wrong but we should rather try to create new symbols more representative of all who live together in societies but divided by class, culture and other grounds. They should all find a place in our museums, in our history curriculums, in our public spaces and public squares.

Reading about symbols of slavery, news of racism and police violence in US and the UK, people outside tend to see these as far away realities there is little effort to unearth the elephants in their own rooms of deep-running racism/xenophobia / anti-migrant sentiment, communalism, casteism, growing rightwing vigilante squads to whom violence is outsourced, excessive police violence, in locations within the Global South and beyond – India, Brazil, Chile, South Africa, Russia, to name a just a few places.

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We remember Ajay Singh, a journalist and later a Member of Parliament from Agra. He also served as Deputy Minister for Railways in the V P Singh Government and then as India’s ambassador to Fiji. Ajay Singh passed away in New Delhi on the June 9, 2020.

We also pay our sincere tributes to Justice Hosbet Suresh, former judge of the Bombay High Court, who showed a deep commitment for human rights and for the marginalised. Justice Suresh Passed away in Bombay on the June 11, 2020.

June 13, The Editor

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