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Indian String of Pearls "Unstringing" Chinese String of Pearls Theory

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INS Airavat VietnamMonth of May was full of geopolitical developments and changes in one of the most nuclear armed hostile region of the world, the CIP band (China-India-Pakistan). The new premier of China went to India on his first ever foreign visit and then to meet the new leadership of their ally, Pakistan. In the meantime Afghan President came to India in his unofficial low profile meeting, but making solid developments. Indian Prime Minister in the hope of surviving in the next election met with Japanese and Thai leadership signing various economic and strategic pacts. All this happened in a short period of time and quite related to each other.

China renewed the border dispute with India by entering 19 Km deep inside Indian territory in Laddakh and setting up temporary bases. With this, People’s Liberation Army of China has made it clear that with the new premier of China is not going to change its stance on the border issue between the two countries. China’s aggressiveness is as a result of India’s passiveness specially on the border issues with China. A number of times India just ignores Chinese intrusion just to avoid any major or minor conflict with the giant dragon. India’s behaviour like a “wet cat” encourages China to suppress India with its power. The border dispute was resolved on the assurance from India that its army will not patrol on its own territory of that region and will treat it as a disputed territory. The government in India later cheered that they have resolved the border dispute peacefully and patiently. Such a wonderful achievement, really!!

The term string of pearls (Read More: Chinese String of Pearls Theory) theory is mainly used for China, how it is surrounding India and other south east Asian nations with its presence forming a string of pearls. String of pearls may or may not be a threat for the countries being surrounded, but surely a warning that at the time of need China may anytime use its developed infrastructure against them.

Unlike India, Vietnam and Philippines have been more assertive in claiming their sovereignty in the disputed South China Sea. Almost an year ago, officials of Philippine maritime attempted to arrest Chinese fishermen in waters off Scarborough Shoal, claimed by the Philippines as within its Exclusive Economic Zone. This is something which India could have done with the Chinese soldiers who had entered inside the Indian territory. India had full rights to do so and then could have opened diplomatic channels for returning the soldiers with a warning.

The South China Sea area is crossed by more than half the world’s total trade and has an estimated vast energy and mineral reserves completely claimed by China and in part by neighbouring nations: Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines. One of the main reason of the tension is fishing rights of Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei in their own waters. China stops fishing near its shores from mid-May until August to facilitate nurturing of fishes in the water. This makes Chinese fishermen, guarded by naval vessels, head to the waters claimed by neighbouring countries without even recognizing their territorial claims, China considers almost all of the South China sea as its territorial water.

On May 10, the Philippines claimed China intruded inside its 370 Km exclusive economic zone with a military frigate, two surveillance ships and some fishing boats around Second Thomas Shoal, days after the incident, the Philippines launched a diplomatic protest which did not stop China as after ten days on May 20, Vietnam filed a diplomatic protest saying one of its ships was rammed by a Chinese vessel on May 20 in its water.

China simply ignores the territorial claims made by its neighbours in the South China Sea as it is assertive that South China sea is Chinese territory and there is no way China would hold a dialogue with the neighbours on the territorial issue. According to Ni Lexiong, professor of international military affairs and diplomacy at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, China’s neighbors are making claims in the South China Sea that are “not reasonable” because they want access to oil resources.

India’s opinion on Chinese string of pearls theory is a bit disappointing to China’s south east Asian neighbours  who are in need of non regional powers to mediate for bringing peace and stability in the region. According to India, Chinese economy is dependent on its large number of imports and exports which passes through Persian Gulf and Straight of Malacca, hence having security setup to secure its economy is legitimate and India should not worry.

“Unstringing” Chinese String of Pearls Theory

Being said that, the passiveness which India exhibits is mere a show to the world, in reality the story is slightly different. In the background India has stealthily developed a version of its own string of pearls theory. India may or may not keep the will and power to alone challenge China openly, but is involved actively with other Indian Ocean Region island nations to collectively “unstring” the Chinese string of pearls. China has a number of times claimed that India is forming a metal chain or “Iron Curtain” in Indian Ocean to block its interest. (Read more: The Strait of Malacca: The Meeting Point of Giants)
India's string of pearls theory
View of various countries on South China Sea conflict, String of pearls theory or their political inclination

India has quietly made way for its interests in the island nations and African nations in Indian Ocean Region, which includes Mauritius, Maldives, Seychelles and Madagascar and the countries of South Africa, Tanzania and Mozambique with a very agile foreign policy, economic compensations like the double taxation exemption with Mauritius, and military aid.

Indian Navy maintains a robust hydrographic arm, with eight sophisticated survey ships, a number of survey aircrafts, and state of the art facilities in Dehradun and Goa. The well equipped surveying arm of the Indian Navy has made several successes in undertaking various survey assignments for countries like Oman, Saudi Arabia and island nations in the Indian Ocean making a positive strategic footprints that would certainly irk China. India has in fact gained ship berthing rights in Oman which is a strategic location for the fight against piracy. The port also allows the Indian Navy to monitor the SLOCs of Hormuz and Aden.

India has signed an MoU with Mozambique that will provide the African nation Indian piracy patrols. Going a further step, in a 2007 report, which has not been denied by the government, it was reported that India has setup a listening post in the African island nation of Madagascar.

Forums like IOR-ARC (Indian Ocean Rim – Arrangement for Regional Cooperation) and IBSA (India-Brasil-South Africa) have been formed for better commercial, energy and resources link with Africa. Assertive India not only brought Mauritius, Mozambique and Madagascar to back India’s move to block Pakistan’s membership in IOR-ARC, but also managed to block China’s access to IBSA.

According to an unconfirmed report, India signed an agreement on Defence Cooperation in 2001 with Mongolia stationing radar systems able to monitor Chinese missile tests. Defence cooperation also included holding bilateral military exercises and discussion  on having an airbase which has not yet been successful.

India on the other hand has developed strong military relationship with Maldives, which includes basing two helicopters permanently in the island nation to enhance its surveillance capability. India will setup 26 radars in Maldives along its entire coastline for seamless coverage of approaching vessels and aircraft. This radar chain will be interlinked with the Indian radar chain with a central control room in India’s Coastal Command.

African island nation of Mauritius enjoys deeper relations with India. India had setup the Mauritius Coast Guard in the 70s and the island nation gone even further to lease two islands to India allowing it to use it “as per its benefit”. Coming back to the land, India maintains Farkhor air base and has been involved in renovating Ayni air base both in Tajikistan minutes away from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and China occupied Kashmir. (Read Both the Stories: India Expanding Its Strategic Presence in Other Countries).

Indian Iron Curtain (String of Pearls) on Chinese Backyard

As Chi Haotin, general of People’s Republic of China said, “The Indian Ocean is not India’s Ocean”. India says, “South China sea is not China’s sea”. Seeing Chinese increasing activities in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, India took similar steps to irk China by increasing its activity in South China sea. India knows that it may not be able to contain China alone, as a result India collectively with Japan, Russia and the US stands against China.

India and Vietnam has signed several defence agreement which includes selling of state of the art, world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile, Brahmos. Vietnam has also provided basing rights to Indian Navy on its port of Nha Trang on a western shore of the South China Sea. Russia, which has been recently partnering with China in almost all the global events surprised China with its move to provide six Varshavyanka-class submarines to Vietnam which has enhanced anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare capabilities to perform in shallow waters, a perfect card to play in the South China sea. Russia whose superpower attitude has been on decline since 1991 is expecting to enter South China sea conflict in its own way when people have started analyzing that Russia has lost to China in its race to become the next superpower (What’s your opinion on this?).

In 2011, India’s state-run explorer, OVL signed a three-year deal with PetroVietnam for developing long-term cooperation in the oil sector, accepting Vietnam’s offer of exploration in the South China Sea making China protest against this move.

Vietnam, which had a tough history with United States has invited US presence in the region giving the signal that for regional peace and stability Vietnam doesn’t mind participation of non regional nations. To solidify its relations further with United States, Vietnam is expected to request the US government for the sale of Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft, a senior company official told IHS Jane’s. This makes clear that Vietnam is trying India’s long trusted policy of forming good relations with both the United States and Russia. Vietnam’s attitude shows the potential, which it has, to become the regional power of south east Asia.

In the meantime, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has assured Asian nations that despite their sharp cuts in defence budgets, the Pentagon will continue to shift its military focus to the Asia Pacific region.

In 2009, India contributed $1.2 million and advanced $774,000 to the TTEG (Tripartite Technical Experts Group). India volunteered to survey wrecks in the Malacca Straits which approved by the TTEG, further irking the Chinese.

Responding to the recent visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Japan discussing maritime security cooperation, Chinese media has raised concerns that Japan is trying to encircle China with the help of military and economic cooperation with India.

While India easily bows down to China making compromises on its own territories, India is seen very assertive and aggressive in its policy of containing China in the international soil and waters. Leadership of both the nations often meet with shaking hands and smiles on their face signing more trade agreements and contracts and hoping for better cooperation in the future, but behind their smiley face both the nations know what they are doing and what is needed to be done.

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Sanskar Shrivastava is the founder of international students' journal, The World Reporter. Passionate about dynamic occurrence in geopolitics, Sanskar has been studying and analyzing geopolitcal events from early life. At present, Sanskar is a student at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture and will be moving to Duke University.

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Humanity Endures During Coronavirus Pandemic

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Photo by Press Information Bureau, Government of India

The world changed exponentially since the pandemic broke out. We changed too. Emotions are running high. We have learnt to take one day at a time and have stopped expecting changes to happen overnight.

“COVID19 is menacing the whole of humanity – and so the whole of humanity must fight back”
A clarion call from United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is a call to unity and solidarity. Already plagued by natural/manmade disasters and wars, many countries seem to bite the dust for want of resources in the fight against the virus. Warning each other against complacency is appreciable but never a blame game to cover up a dysfunctional response. Not all update themselves on the governments, new economic policies and R&D on Covid vaccine. Many we come across seem to be making wise individual choices. No matter how badly the tiers of government fail us, there will always be thousands of people working to make things better. Besides, finding reasons and faults on policies for the spread doesn’t help. A virulent strain of flu had managed to spread within a few months to the remotest corners of the world infecting half a billion people – more than a quarter of the human species in 1918 long before the current age of globalization.

Separating, alienating and forswearing the endless moments of contact that knit society together thrust us into frightening new realities. The good is still there. Social distancing is nothing but taking a step back to literally give breathing space to others. Going by news & views, we understand that amid concerns of rising numbers of positive cases in frustrating circumstances, acts of kindness and solidarity are burgeoning. Yes, it’s been extremely sad and sobering to watch this all unfold, but watching people share resources and supporting one another in every conceivable way has made us feel more connected to our local communities. Whether singing a song together out on balconies, getting groceries for the elderly or calling a friend to alleviate anxiety and fear, each one I know play a part and take comfort in a sense of togetherness. We are steadily aware of our limitations yet don’t hesitate to free our wells of compassion. Do we think twice and thrice to make an online contribution to save the lives of people we don’t know and will never know!

Sadly, it has taken an invisible virus to help us belive once again that we are strongest only when we have the welfare of others in our mind. Halfway through quarantine and self-isolation a phone call, a kind word, an opportunity to reach out, a breeze, bird calls, one good news and loss of a loved one, we are hit with the necessary humility and awe we ought to feel and appreciate just how beautiful our world is and precious life is.

Post pandemic recovery will be better and bigger if life goes on with this beautiful idea, of humility, inwardness – as an ethical relationship, for the sake of others. For better or for worse, we have learnt that one can’t be an island unto himself. Lives are intertwined and are bound together. We, humans produce more rubbish than any other species. The growth in the human population is part of the explanation, but cannot account for all of the extra rubbish, a result of haste and greed both which almost skinned humans of humanity.

Unity among countries must ensure that all countries are equipped to trace, isolate and treat people infected by COVID-19. Only a global effort can avoid the collapse of any country’s medical system. Sanctions that affect health care should never be imposed. Development in one part of the world should not rob another country of it’s resources. Humanity gains the upper hand over invisible predators through the sharing of reliable scientific information, global solidarity, vaccinations, antibiotics, improved hygiene and a much better medical infrastructure. Today,it doesn’t take too much to figure out that global sharing and caring is the best defense. The Jing Si aphorism, “Good actions require everyone’s cooperation. So let’s not cling to personal biases” holds good for all times.

Stories of good samaritans are aplenty. To know humanity is still alive and kicking and is at it’s best when united assures us that we’ll come out of this “abnormal” time with a new normal. In their own unique ways, humans respond to protect life and health and ensure respect for fellow beings. ‘single-nucleotide polymorphisms’ are no joke. From handing over meals, survial kits, medicines, home made masks to calling on an old couple across the street, everything is humanity in action and it is the power of this humanity – humane behaviour towards other humans – that we seek to celebrate, improve and increase, especially during crucial times. Remember “A person with a generous heart and compassion for all beings leads the most blessed life”.

With thousands of migrant workers taking it on their chin, vehicles filled with food and ration along highways reach the needy and stranded and canteens serve free food. Rays of sunshine! We see through hypocrisy and deceptions, hear excuses for inefficiency, inadequacy and inflexibility and within the tumult and uncertainty we are doing much, much better in life than we thought we can. Quietly. Kindly. Gently. Being able to spare a part of us to help someone live is worth being thankful for. ” Giving with an expectation for return brings misery”. May we give generously, but don’t guilt ourselves if we can’t. If we have nothing left to spare, let’s go slow and kind.

The world is being taught a lesson, the harder way. This lesson is not about rich and powerful versus poor and powerless but about leadership that treasure the common wealth and common good, above private greed and profit and above protecting the privileges of a handful elites.

None of us are actually going anywhere. Might as well stay. The conclusion we draw from this crisis is that all humans matter equally, that we need to give a hand, raise one another, flourish or perish together- no matter what our limitations are, we’re capable of a great deal. This virus backlash is nothing short of a fleeting lesson to all leaders about how sane, humane societies should function all the time. Those who regard themselves as wonderfully favored of leadership, power and pelf are called to do great things. Anything that constantly arise to cause conflicts or disunion must be questioned, criticized, denounced and judged.

Be it a forced contemplation of our mortality or a sudden urge of self denial or an awareness of the passage of time and life, this screeching halt is proof that humans are designed to be more productive when connected, even in isolation. So, not all hope is lost. The time has come when we must know for ourselves why we believe in humanity as we do.

“Do something good for somebody today; the people who are trying to make the world worst aren’t taking days off.”

Gestures to honor humanity are varied, aplenty. A flypast in India is a cruel joke on the already tumbling down economy and on the selfless humanitarians who spare nothing to reach out. We can only wish the trail of showered petals, if showered will guide the departing victims of COVID19. Flying past/over ground realities is a highly irresponsible act of governments. Also, a misuse and mismanagement of meagre resources.

Was it a premonition that urged saint Thiruvalluvar, celebrated Tamil poet and philosopher to get on with kural 578 which when translated into English goes as

” The world is theirs (Kings) who are able to show kindness, without injury to their affairs, (administration of Justice).

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Congress’s Electoral Enervation

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BlakeShramster / CC BY-SA

Lately, the Grand Old Party of India has been suffering from severe political lacerations. It is bleeding profusely but it still refuses to recognize and feel the pain of its grisly wounds. The Congress party is obstinately practicing political podsnappery and this is further eviscerating its relevance. Slowly and steadily, its ideological roots are being chipped away. We are witnessing a kind of dilemmatic democratic party, which is strangulating in the ever-shifting tectonic plates of Indian politics. The fresh act of defection by Jyotiraditya Scindia foregrounds the ideologically weak aura which now surrounds the Congress.

In every period of its history, a particular type of ideological encrustation surrounded the Congress and illuminated its charm among the Indian voters. This ideology rooted it firmly in a vast network of ideologies. This ideology, for the most part, has been secular and liberal and acted as a strong bulwark against a xenophobically framed anti-secular strategy. But now, this prodigious party has shrunk to a miniscule group. This cataclysmic contraction has happened primarily due to the elitist imagery to which it was tethered. Congress’s political rivals portrayed it as an inherently elitist group by harping on its corruption scandals like the Satyam Scam, Coal Scam, Chopper Scam, Adarsh Scam and Tatra Truck Scam. All this overemphasis on the financial impurity of the Congress led to the citizens believing that the Congress party is an aristocratic admixture of kleptocracy and bogus secularism.

The political dynasticism of the Congress further solidified this elitist imagery and soon, Congress became the ‘suit, boot ki Sarkar’. The usage of the aforementioned epithet successfully established the presence of the Congress party as a technocratic liberal party, accustomed to high-handed bureaucratic methods of administration. The attribute of a ‘pro-people party’ was snatched away from the Congress and it was represented as a technocratic group, largely unconnected from the material conditions of the citizens.

Apart from the political and financial palm-greasing, the Congress has also been disemboweled due to its confounding ideological quagmire. The Grand Old Party is stuck in a regal fort, where it is continuously wavering between a secular strategy and a thinly-veiled contrivance of religious pandering. It has already flip-flopped on its ideological plank by pitching Rahul Gandhi as a religious leader which actually backfired because people at once understood that he had suddenly become a synthetically Hinduized leader.

And now, it is lending its support to the Anti-CAA protests and has all of a sudden, arrived like a knight in shining armor, chaotically shouting secular slogans. Opportunistic acts like these cause severe trust deficit and the party incurs widespread odium for its electoral opportunism. So, due to the Congress’s ideological shilly-shally, its attempt to provide guidance to the Anti-CAA protests is seen as a crude act of politically hijacking the protests. To say succinctly, the Congress has been utterly passive in reacting to some major political events and has not even tried to extend its sinews to drag itself out from the quicksand of financial dissoluteness and ideological vacillation.

Due to all the above mentioned iniquitous inadequacies, Congress is withering and losing its elephantine presence on the electoral platform. This is the most appropriate time for the Congress to recognize its Achilles heel and try to overcome this deficiency. The defection of Jyotiraditya Scindia highlights the fact that now, an ideological string no longer ties any Congress member and the party needs to alter its highly feudal organizational structure which is identical to a form of royal structure, based on monarchical munificence. The Congress party can utilize the following remedial measures to perform the medical operation which is indispensable for it to regain its health.

Constitutional Struggles

It should try assiduously to interconnect itself with the common masses and change its political behavioral pattern by staging what can be called ‘constitutional struggles’. These constitutional struggles will essentially be democratic demonstrations, aiming to recover the lost sheen of the constitution. These protests should be able to blend constitutional patriotism with a Gandhian non-violent idea of struggle. In this way, the Congress party would be successful in politically fructifying its vast receptacles of historical significance and will harmonize its history as a torchbearer of freedom with the present calamitous conditions. One important reason behind the need to make Mahatma Gandhi the vanguard of Congress’s recuperation struggle is the vast space which he occupies in the collective imagination of the Indian citizens. By spotlighting Gandhi, the Congress party can easily initiate a resistance movement whose objective will be to find the Gandhian truths in this age of political prevarications and fabrications.

Change Organizational Configurations

The Congress party needs to change its organizational configurations. The sybaritic structure of dynasticism should be superseded by a bottom-up approach which is decentralized. The present organizational architecture is extremely centralistic and all the members of the Congress party are seen as the supine members of a sycophantic entourage, revolving around the singular nucleus of nobility, which has invariably been the Gandhi family. The senior members of the Congress party such as Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ahmed Patel and Manmohan Singh are depicted as the servile stooges of the Gandhi family who possess an unbreakable fidelity to the dynastic autocracy of the Congress party. The congress leadership is also currently rudderless. During the elections, it played the role of a dabbler. After Indira Gandhi, all the Gandhis (Except Sanjay Gandhi) were reluctant politicians. They were compelled because the Nehru – Gandhi name was associated with the party. All these aspects of party functioning need to be radically changed so that non-Gandhi members are not seen as mere appendages of the supposed undisputed overlord which is the Gandhi family. (3) A coherently unified ideological political programme needs to be built. The lumbering party is in a state of delirium and is unable to properly specify its political stance. It should solidly settle this predicament by choosing to continue with its former political posture as a truly secular and democratic party, committed to constitutional values. If this operation is not undertaken, the Congress will be finally consigned to the political graveyard, where it will die with its shambolic ideological structure.

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5 Ways to Strengthen Sibling Bond

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siblings relations

Blood is always thicker than water. This is one of the most appropriate proverbs one can find.

Blood relations always prove to be the most important and everything fades away when it comes to your own blood. Sibling bond is one of the closest bonds one can have.

During childhood any child with a sibling can understand that bond and feel the closeness on that bond. In Spite of endless fights, disagreements, siblings love each other the most and are very protective of each other.

It is very easy to maintain this bond while you are younger and living together, the challenge comes to maintain that bond while you grow up and start moving towards your own social and domestic life. Here are some tips how you can strengthen your sibling bond while still handling your work, social and domestic life:

1. Plan Holidays Together:

Make a pact that every year you all will get together and plan a holiday either with family(if married) or just all the siblings together. it will make sure that you are taking time out for yourselves and not getting faded in everyday life.

2. Have a Private Group Chat:

Siblings can make sure that you all initiate private group chats and make sure you share your everyday routine, happiness, problems etc in order to keep everyone in the loop of your life.

Group chat makes sure that you are catching up on each other on an everyday basis and is a constant part of each other’s lives.

3. Send Gifts to Each Other:

Siblings can plan to send each other gifts on different occasions that will help in building a close relationship with each other. Sometimes, it is possible your sibling might be based far away or in a foreign country. There are so many online platforms available where you can send a gift to your siblings whether its online birthday cake delivery or online rakhi delivery etc. everything is available on online portals.

4. Help each other in Reaching Goals:

Siblings are the most important people who can push you towards your goal. Siblings can encourage each other towards what is the best course to take for a bright future. Sometimes a sibling can recognise your potential much faster than you yourself can. Thus it is important that you share your goals and aspirations and listen to each other in order to go forward in your life.

5. Cultivate Friendship:

It is very important that siblings should cultivate not only sibling bonds but become best friends and should be able to confide in each other. This is only possible if they work on developing only  siblings but a friendship bond. A good friendship will ensure that it becomes very easy for siblings to communicate with each other and discuss any issues they might face. It is important that the friendship is of a level that when one sibling needs help they should reach their sibling in the very first course.

So, these were some tips that can strengthen your singing bond. If you follow these tips, you can make sure that you will become best friends with your siblings and will have a great relationship despite a life of your own.

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